Veteran bikes across America to raise awareness

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT)-- Leaving the combat field and coming back to the classroom can be a difficult transition but there's help out there for student veterans. It's called Student Veterans of America and one woman is pedaling cross country to raise money and awareness.

Her name is Kiersten Downs; a veteran who spent 7 years in the Air Force and New York National Guard. After her time serving our country she went back to school with help from the G.I Bill but it wasn't an easy transition.

"The level of group activity decreases including social and physical activity. I didn't know any other vets so it was a period of isolation for me." said Kiersten

But that period of her life changed when she became a doctoral student at the University of South Floria.

Kiersten said "I found out about the Student Veterans of America and they've helped me cope with school. I found a new community and I've thrived."

She gained so much from the organization that she's "pedaling" it forward so other veterans can benefit from it.

"I'm trying to show other student veterans at different college campus what this organization is all about and if their college doesn't have one-- then they should stair their own!" said Kiersten.

Her bike campaign started on June 2nd in San Francisco, California and so far she has come more than 3,500 miles. It's a trek that has challenged but has not stopped her.

Kiersten said "The message and support that I've had nationwide has definitely pushed me through. I'd said the biggest support I've had is the power of community."

Now she's hoping to finish her journey in Washington, D.C. by August 5th with $50,000 to donate to the National Student Veterans of America organization.

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