JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – One man has spent many months on horseback, riding coast to coast in an effort to support our veterans.

Matt Perella has been on a mission to travel from Camp Pendelton, California to Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville. He’s doing all this with the help of his best friend Buck, the horse.

Perella and Buck began their journey in April of 2023, traveling around 3,000 miles to get to where they are now. They’ve spent 184 days on the road making new friends in each state and raising money for his non-profit.

He hopes to use the money to create the Righteous Life Rescue Ranch in Asheville, which will be a safe haven for veterans struggling with their mental health and PTSD. It will also be a place for training dogs to be service animals and using horses for equine therapy.

“I have a lot of friends that committed suicide from the military and they struggle with PTSD very seriously Perella said. “And, you know, ultimately, they took the sacrifice. And it was just, I never understood how people could get to that point until I went through my own dark times … I was battling myself.

“And thankfully my dog stepped up and saved my life. So after he did that, I knew there was a stronger purpose. And I owed it to the animals really.”

Veterans and residents of Onslow County have been cheering him on along his last stretch and showing their appreciation for what he’s doing. Buck the horse is also making strides, being the fastest horse on record to travel coast to coast.

Perella said that he plans to do another cross-country trip to raise money in two years.