9/11 first responder hiking Appalachian trail to work through PTSD

Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 6:50 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - A firefighter who was at ground zero during 9/11 is now hitting the Appalachian Trail.

Rob Weisberg’s adventure started with a send-off from the Atlanta Area Council, Boy Scouts of America, and now, he’s on the trail.

For most hikers who dedicate themselves to more than 2,000 miles of trail, solitude is the point. For Rob, solitude is where he faces his biggest challenge...his own memories.

“I was underneath the twin towers when the first plane hit,” said Rob.

Rob was across the street when the towers fell on 9/11. He told emergency crews he was a volunteer firefighter, it was all hands on deck. Not only did Rob lose friends that day, but he also lost friends in the war that started because of that day.

“I have a lot of baggage associated with that day but it wasn’t just that day. I was involved in 9/11 from that day forward. I worked down there with rescue and recovery for the next 9 months to help find my friends,” said Rob while holding back tears.

Finishing the Appalachian trail will not only be a test of Rob’s physical strength...

“It stirs up a lot of baggage, a lot of survivor guilt,” said Rob.

....but a test of his ability to sit with, or walk out, the emotions that come up in solitude.

“I turned off...for over 20 years. That is why I think being out here, processing all of this is what is making it easier for me to get the emotions out,” said Rob.

Rob is fundraising for an organization called Paws of War. It is an organization that has helped him train his service dog, for free.