Winona Marine paddling the Mississippi to raise PTSD awareness - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Winona Marine paddling the Mississippi to raise PTSD awareness

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) - Joshua Ploetz was an active Marine until 2006. When he got out of the service, away from his fellow servicemen, he struggled to make it on his own.

When he wasn't able to rejoin them due to medical reasons, he had to find another way to experience that bond.

He's found it through a 64-day, 2,300-mile journey down the Mississippi River. He stopped in La Crosse Monday afternoon to talk about his struggles and his experiences.

A friend told him about a similar trip he took eight years ago. At first, Ploetz was hesitant, but said Monday the first few weeks of his journey have been life-changing.

Now, he's pushing to change the lives of others.

"I still have to find that happiness in myself," Ploetz said, "but also getting other veterans to maybe look at something like this or not sitting in the room and playing video games, but try to find something therapeutic."

On Monday afternoon the La Crosse chapter of the Navy League of the United States offered him words of encouragement in a ceremony at Riverside Park before he heads out again on Tuesday.

Ploetz began his journey May 19 at Lake Itasca in Minnesota. He will finish the trip August 1 in Venice, Louisiana.

You can follow Ploetz on his journey at www.paddleofftheWar.hand-e-pix.com. To donate to his cause, visit http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/AFF/PaddleoffTheWar.

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