Veterans find community and healing in the mountains

Veterans find community and healing in the mountains


[music playing] ROCKWELL: Anytime in your life
that you’re feeling stress or need to just kind of reconnect with nature, the mountains are the place to do it for me. I was a skier before I was in the military.
Afterwards, I was able to spend time with other veterans and get to meet new people
while skiing or hiking. Being able to get to the top of the mountain
and look out on everything that’s going on, I feel refreshed, ready to kind of move on
with the day. It helps give me a sense of purpose. [music playing] I deployed as a platoon leader into Kunar,
Afghanistan in 2009. I was there for about 13 months, came back
for about 10 months and then redeployed with the same unit, 10th Mountain again,
to the Arghandab Valley outside of Kandahar in Afghanistan in 2011. There’s no greater camaraderie than what you
find in the military. When you’re put into those circumstances,
that’s going to create an incredible bond. [music playing] The second you leave your unit, you lose
that really tight bond you had with the men and women you served with in country and in combat. I didn’t have that problem at Sloan or at
MIT, but I’ve kept in touch with some people that were not able to find that. A lot of us, members of our military units
commit suicide upon return after they got out of the military, and that’s sometimes
a direct result of not being able to find support and a community to be a part of. [music playing] The purpose of 10th Mountain Healing is to
help combat veterans reintegrate into society, and our way of doing that is to use the mountains. We’re all big skiers. We all personally find that being in
the mountains helps us deal with the events of our time in the military. So we wanted to share that with other veterans. [music playing] Every year we try to get 15 to 16 combat veterans
going out to Colorado. There’s an incredible back country hut system
out there called the 10th Mountain Hut System. We’re able to actually climb from Camp Hale,
the original home of the 10th Mountain Division, up to these huts and kind of follow in the
footsteps of the original 10th Mountain soldiers. We’re able to spend two to three nights
at these huts and people can either ski, snowboard. They can do whatever they feel kind of connects
them with the mountains up there. The journey of getting everybody equipped
and getting them to the top of the mountain is really kind of the most powerful thing
that I’ve seen every year. They’re climbing 2,500 to 3,000 feet
at elevation up to these huts. These people from different backgrounds, have
only known each other for 48 hours, are able to get together and get these people to the
top of the mountain regardless of their skill. Our first year, we had a Marine
veteran named Jordan. He had a little bit trouble getting the top
of the mountain, but he made it up. And then he came back the next year and he
helped other people get up the mountain. [OFF- CAMERA] Looking good. Looking good. Yeah, team! [OFF-CAMERA] Nice. Nice! [music playing] We kind of pride ourselves on being a very
small organization at this time. So we’re the ones reaching out to veterans. We’re the ones there with them on the trip. It’s a very personal experience. It’s a huge part of my life. I really enjoy planning these trips. I enjoy reaching out to veterans,
getting to know them. The entire veterans’ community can benefit
from trips like 10th Mountain Healing. [music playing]

Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *