'Junker Across America' to raise awareness for veterans
A group of five friends set out this week from Kinston on a cross-country journey to raise awareness of veterans’ issues.
The idea behind the annual “Junker Across America” trip is simple: Take an old, beaten-up car, dedicate it to the memories of deceased veterans and drive it across the country.
When this year’s 1995 Chevrolet Suburban left on Thursday, Danny Webb, Milton Foster, Jeremy Whitfield, Billy Nas and Bryan Kerr were setting out on a trek that will take them to Seattle, with stops in Chicago, Sioux City, Deadwood, Cody, Butte and Spokane along the way.
At the end of the road, the crew plans to donate the vehicle to The Seattle Stand Down, a nonprofit that provides support and assistance to veterans in the Seattle community.
As the Suburban rumbles toward the West Coast, it will also be honoring the veterans whose names are inscribed on the sides.
“There are names of different veterans who have fallen either in combat or afterward, due to the after-effects of combat. It is an homage to them,” Foster said.
Next year, Foster said the Junker Across America crew will partner with an N.C.-based charity to bring awareness to the high suicide rate among veterans. That trip will cover the eastern seaboard from Maine to Key West, Fla. Foster said the goal for the trips is to visit each of the 50 states before heading out internationally.
Foster got involved, he said, when Webb called him and proposed heading to California in a 1970s Cadillac several years ago. His initial reaction was to say that he couldn’t take the time to do something like that, but Webb convinced him to be more adventurous.
Foster said he hopes others will be inspired to do something out of the ordinary by following along with his adventures.
“It’s an opportunity to show people who are like me that you can just get out there and explore, because there is no perfect time,” Foster said.
Several local businesses are helping to support the Junker Across America mission, including Foss Recycling, Mother Earth Motor Lodge and the Boiler Room Restaurant.
You can keep up with their progress by following their Facebook page here.