Attention getter

August 21, 2006

feetI’m not sure what to think of Ron Zaleski.

He’s thru-hiking the AT.


To draw attention to the lack of mental health services for soldiers returning from the battlefield.

Or something like that.

Articles about him have followed him along the trail since he started hiking in late May, so he’s good at getting press coverage.

Shoeless hiker treks Appalachian for vets’ rights:

“Zaleski admits his hike is a form of protest against the war in Iraq, which he sees as another Vietnam. He also describes the trek as a personal journey of discovery. Most important to him, though, is his hope that it makes a difference for veterans suffering the mental effects of war.

Man’s shoeless trek is tribute to veterans’ plight

Zaleski, 52, is calling attention to a problem he perceives in the way the military treats veterans. While there is counseling for post traumatic stress disorder, he believes counseling should be mandatory so no one refuses treatment to avoid being stigmatized.”

Mandatory counseling? Hmmm.

Anyway, I guess hiking barefoot draws attention to his cause, despite the logical connection to it.

But what bothers me is he’s acting like this has never been done before. In his Web site he says his hike is

“An attempt to be the first person to walk the 2,174 mile Appalachian Trail barefoot…”

Maybe he doesn’t know about the Barefoot Sisters.

Or maybe it’s best to not let the facts get in the way of a good story.