Shane Moore’s life could have gone into a critical tailspin. But following a saving grace, the former military veteran is attempting to do his part in combating an unfortunately-common sight.
Moore served in the military from 1990-1996. Then, several years after ending his deployment, he nearly had his life de-railed through some financial decisions. However, he has used a second chance to spread awareness of veteran homelessness while teaching at times through his own experiences during a nationwide walk from Jacksonville, Fl. to San Diego, Ca.
“I was so close to becoming homeless myself,” he said.
Moore, a former district manager for Planet Fitness in Beaumont, had previously moved to Texas with his daughter so she could attend school. After losing his job, however, the former veteran said his financial decisions nearly caused a disastrous situation.
“After I left that job, I just couldn’t find a replacement, so over the course of a year I wound up burning through almost all of my life savings. But a navy shipmate reached out to me with a job in Michigan,” he said.
And just like that, he had new life. During this time, Moore said he discovered not only that he enjoyed the service, but found a cause that hit home.
Further, he had long harbored a passion for hiking and backpacking; so why not meld the two ideas into something greater than himself?
“I had been thinking for awhile that I would to hike the Appalachian or Pacific Crest Trail,” he said. “Then I got to thinking, instead of just doing a hike there – which would be just for me – why not try to combine my passion for hiking with helping out vets?”
In the end, he brainstormed an idea to walk across the country, coast-to-coast to spread awareness. According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs report released in October 2016, there were still about 40,000 homeless veterans.
“If I do that [for this cause], I would get the chance to meet people and see the outdoors, while letting people know there are unfortunately [thousands] of veterans who don’t have place to call their own,” Moore said. “It’s sad when anyone is homeless, but these are people who specifically sacrificed for the betterment of the country, and I think it’s important we do a little something to give back to them.”
Adding to the depression of the situation, Moore said, is a certain misconception.
“There’s the assumption that a lot of those who are homeless are that way because of drugs or alcohol, or they’re lazy or whatever, and honestly that’s not always the case,” he said, citing his own earlier decisions to the point of homelessness. “In some cases, people just make bad decisions.
In some cases, Moore said, the trauma induced from the events service throws at someone can also affect different people in a variety of ways, and that is another key point he intends to stress. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates PTSD afflicts nearly 31 percent of Vietnam veterans, as many as 10 percent of Gulf War veterans and 11 percent of veterans of the war in Afghanistan.
“Even if they do [have issues with drugs or alcohol], sometimes it’s possibly because they didn’t get the mental treatment they needed after they got out of the service,” he said. “[Homelessness] isn’t necessarily because someone’s a bad person or lazy or whatever. And even if that is the reason, we can still show some compassion.”
Anyone wishing for an update of the journey can visit hikeforvets.com or the Hike For Vets Facebook page, and those wishing to donate can do so through the cause’s website.
“As private citizens, I think it’s important for us to recognize someone who’s made that sacrifice, and sacrifice a bit of our time, energy and treasure into helping them,” Moore said.