Sunday, March 23, 2014

Combat Veterans to 'Walk Off The War' on the Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) has again partnered with Warrior Hike to provide a group of military veterans the opportunity to “Walk Off The War” along the Appalachian Trail (A.T.). This year’s group of veterans began the six-month-long physical challenge on March 17th 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 A.T. this year include Scott Brooks-Miller, a Vietnam War veteran, and several returning service members from Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

The ATC, A.T. 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.

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