By Helena Adeloju
Pakenham’s mystery hitchhiker is walking for a cause.
The words ‘Melbourne to Canberra’ written in large lettering on Scott Drysdale’s backpack as he walked beside the Princes Highway on Wednesday 10 May was eye-catching for a reason.
He is walking from Melbourne to Canberra to raise funds for an organisation that is very close to his heart.
“I’m doing the walk to raise money for an organisation called Soldier On,” Mr Drysdale said.
Soldier On supports ex-service men and women experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder with their physical and mental health, as well as helping them to reintegrate in their communities and look for future employment opportunities.
PTSD has long-reaching effects both on individuals and their families.
“People who suffer from PTSD are at a much higher risk of developing drug and alcohol dependencies, finding difficulties in maintaining full-time work, hyper vigilance, family breakdowns and in extreme circumstances, homelessness and suicide,” Mr Drysdale said.
This walk is a personal one for Mr Drysdale. It was inspired by two people in his family. “My dad and step-dad both served in the defence force and suffered from PTSD long before organisations like Soldier On existed,” he said.
“My dad has attempted suicide a few times, but luckily we still have him with us. Others are not so lucky.”
He said if given the right physical and mental health treatments and support to reengage with the wider community post service, ex-service men and women have a lot to contribute to the community.
Mr Drysdale said walking through Pakenham on his way to Drouin is just day three of a journey he expects will take five or six weeks, including a very challenging hike along the Australian Alps Walking Track.
Three days in, and Mr Drysdale has already raised more than $2000 of the $10,000 he is aiming raise before he completes the 900km walk to Canberra.
To donate visit: soldieron.giveeasy.org/campaigns/a-reasonable-hike/