NESCONSET, N.Y. (PIX11) – A volunteer firefighter from Long Island received a hero’s welcome on Thursday after he returned home from a months-long journey hiking the Appalachian Trail – all to support veterans and first responders with PTSD.

Rob Weisberg, a volunteer firefighter from Commack, spent more than five months hiking over 1,800 miles of the Appalachian Trail. He raised thousands of dollars for Paws of War, a Long Island-based nonprofit that provides service dogs and support to military veterans and first responders dealing with mental health challenges.

Weisberg’s hiking journey began in Georgia on March 11. He hiked for 161 days through 12 states, battling the elements and losing 60 pounds along the way, according to Paws of War.

Weisberg’s goal was to hike the entire 2,200 miles of the Appalachian Trail, but a leg injury forced him to cut his journey short, the nonprofit said.

Paws of War, located in Nesconset in Suffolk County, hosted a homecoming event for Weisberg on Thursday.

“His journey and message have touched the lives of hundreds of people along the way,” the nonprofit said.

Weisberg has served as a volunteer firefighter in Commack for 29 years. He was among the many heroes who sprang into action the morning of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Weisberg volunteered to support the FDNY at a firehouse on Liberty Street, right across from the Twin Towers, according to his website. He was assigned with creating one of the first triage locations at the World Trade Center. Weisberg and around 40 others in the firehouse became trapped when the towers collapsed.

“[Weisberg] was injured and experienced firsthand the horrors and aftermath of the tragic events of this day that changed history. This traumatic experience has had an impact on Weisberg’s life as he continues to suffer from PTSD,” Weisberg’s website said. “Weisberg chose to raise money for Paws of War because of all the benevolent work they do for our heroes. Paws of War also serves as a community support center where Weisberg, veterans and other first responders can band together, build bonds and share camaraderie.”

Money can still be donated to Weisberg’s Appalachian Trail fundraiser on the Paws of War website.

Finn Hoogensen is a digital journalist who has covered local news for more than five years. He has been with PIX11 News since 2022. See more of his work here.