Warrior Expeditions Brings Veterans Out Into Nature To Heal

National Take A Hike Day

When Sean Gobin, a member of the Marine Corps, returned home from his third combat tour, he knew that he needed some space. The veteran was headed to grad school eventually, but before he integrated into a new and totally different type of environment and regimen, he decided to hike the Appalachian Trail. The experience changed his life. That hike set Sean on a totally new course, one that would come to change the lives of many other veterans as well.

Sean found therapy, about two-thirds of the way through his hike on the Appalachian Trail. He says that hiking and being out in nature helped him "decompress" from his time in the Corps and in combat. That type of decompression is often elusive for soldiers returning home.

"It's really only a matter of a few days from the time that you're actually doing operations... until you come home," Sean explains. "It's really difficult to make that mental switch."

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy reached out to Sean after he had finished his hike, wanting to engage him in a veteran-outreach program they were developing. It was meant to be. Together, the organization and the former Marine created Warrior Hike, which was the start of a program that would eventually be called Warrior Expeditions. Under Sean's leadership, Warrior Expeditions invites veterans on all kinds of outdoor experiences, including canoeing for vets who are unable to hike because of physical injury.

Sean's instincts were right. His program is helping others, like Bartholomew Lindberg, a young veteran who says that when he first returned home from combat, he was "pretty desensitized," and that "finding a way to be sensitive again was a really big struggle." But once Bartholomew did a trip with Warrior Expeditions, he discovered tools to bring himself back a little closer to his old self. Now, he says, "whenever that beast inside me rears its head... I'm able to cut off the top of its head, a little at a time."

This video was produced by Lucia Nazzaro and shot/edited by Bruce Bales.

To learn more about Warrior Expeditions, check out their website and Facebook page. And if you're interested in more inspiring videos featuring brave veterans, check out our HooplaHa YouTube page!

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