Combat veterans ‘walking off the war’ on Appalachian Trail
HARPERS FERRY, W.V. – The Appalachian Trail Conservancy has again partnered with Warrior Hike to provide a group of military veterans the opportunity to “Walk Off The War” along the Appalachian Trail. This year’s group of veterans began the six-month-long physical challenge on March 17 at Springer Mountain, the southern terminus of the trail in Georgia.
The “Walk Off The War” Program provides participating combat veterans with equipment and supplies required to complete a thru-hike of one of America’s National Scenic Trails; coordinates trail town support in the forms of transportation, food and lodging; and assists veterans with future employment opportunities through partners and sponsors.
“Hiking over 2,000 miles during the course of six months gives a veteran an opportunity to decompress and come to terms with their wartime experiences,” said Sean Gobin, Warrior Hike executive director. “The camaraderie that is shared between our combat veterans and the trail town communities helps facilitate their integration back into civilian life.”
Veterans hiking the Appalachian Trail this year include Scott Brooks-Miller, a Vietnam War veteran, and several returning service members from Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Appalachian Trail maintaining clubs and veterans groups in trail towns will provide the veterans with support services, including lodging, transportation and meals.
“Similar to Earl Shaffer, the first Appalachian Trail thru-hiker, these veterans will have the opportunity to journey along the Appalachian Trail and reconnect with nature and with the American people,” said Ron Tipton, executive director and CEO of the ATC. “The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is proud to team up with Warrior Hike to offer this experience to our military veterans.”
This year, Warrior Hike has expanded to include end-to-end hikes on the Continental Divide and the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trails in addition to the A.T.
For more information, visit www.appalachiantrail.org/events or www.warriorhike.com.
About Warrior Hike
The Warrior Hike “Walk Off The War” Program is an outdoor therapy program that supports combat veterans transitioning from their military service by thru-hiking America’s National Scenic Trails. For information, visit www.warriorhike.com.
About the Appalachian Trail Conservancy
The mission of the ATC is to preserve and manage the Appalachian Trail – ensuring that its vast natural beauty and priceless cultural heritage can be shared and enjoyed today, tomorrow and for centuries to come. For information, visit www.appalachiantrail.org.
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