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"We have a huge bond with him because he understands what it means to serve," Andrew Bement tells PEOPLE

August 22, 2015 08:00 AM

Prince Harry is continuing to cement his role as a champion of veterans around the world.

The prince, who turns 31 on Sept. 15, is “a beacon of hope” for wounded warriors, says Kirstie Ennis, one of two U.S. Marines set to participate in the inaugural Walk of Britain, which kicks off Saturday in Scotland.

Ennis, 24, and Andrew Bement, 32, are the only Americans in the group of six making the 1,000-mile walk over the next 10 weeks.

The prince announced in March that he will join the wounded veterans on part of the walk, as he spoke of his determination to do “all I can to help others.” Harry is currently in Africa working with conservation efforts in Namibia after completing his 10-year-long career in the British military.

The walk is the latest venture for the prince, who has made an effort to support wounded soldiers in recent years. In 2013, he trekked across Antarctica to raise awareness for Walking with the Wounded.

His activism on behalf of service members also extends to his Invictus Games, which he is launching stateside in May.

Ennis, who received multiple injuries in a helicopter crash in her last Afghanistan deployment in June 2012, says she met the prince at the Warrior Games in 2013, where she was competing as a swimmer (she’s also a Team USA Paralympic snowboarder) and calls the prince “remarkable.”

Kirstie Ennis
Courtesy Walking with the Wounded

“There needs to be more leaders like him. When you are wounded, you fall off the grid, so to speak, and it’s hard to be able to reach out, especially to people in power.

“For him to be willing to be the face – and a beacon of hope – for wounded warriors and lead the fight to get the wounded the care they need, is so supportive,” she tells PEOPLE.

The veteran also spoke of the prince’s leadership qualities.

“He is laidback in the sense that he wants you to feel comfortable, but he’s compassionate. You can tell what he is doing is because of having a good heart. There is no ulterior motive,” Ennis says.

A 12-year veteran of the Marine Corps, Bement adds that Harry, who served two tours in Afghanistan, inspires them.

“The more people who care about these causes, the more people will come forward to help. We have a huge bond with him because he understands what it means to serve.

Andrew Bement
Courtesy Walking with the Wounded

“I remember when I first heard that a member of the royal family was serving in the British Armed Forces, I thought that was odd – there were so many other things that he could do. He set himself up from the start to support his country, and once he got out, he has an incredible role in it,” Bement tells PEOPLE.

Supported by the Bob Woodruff Foundation, the pair will join the other four walkers in Aberdeen and end their tour at Buckingham Palace on November 1.

Along the way, a handful of celebrities, including The Wire actor Dominic West, former military members, family, friends and supporters will join them.

The NFL, which is backing the walk, also has a surprise in store – some of its players are set to join the supporters along the way.

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Bement, who was medically retired in March 2015 with PTSD and mild traumatic brain injury after combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, says hes looking forward to seeing the U.K. while he spreads the group’s message.

“There’s a lot to take in, and I’m just looking forward to sharing stories with everyone else and being involved with those who want to come out and walk with us,” he says.

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