How Last Year’s Expedition Changed My Life.
Before Mission Mount Whitney, I was pretty much stuck in my house, almost afraid to go out except for my job. I had neglected old friendships because of my insecurities and inabilities to leave my little comfort zone. The outdoors had become stale to me and didn’t seem to rejuvenate me the way it once did.
Preparing for the Soldiers to Summits expedition forced me to get out and start exercising again, and to regain more confidence to try other things. Walking through the woods, and the peace and solitude of those walks, helped me relax and start to enjoy life again.
This journey was truly life changing — giving me the desire and drive to get out and get moving again. Now, I am more outgoing and able to talk about some of my combat experiences. The process renewed my love of the outdoors, inspired me to pursue more climbing, and to consider taking some first responder outdoor courses to better meet the needs of my fellow veterans on future climbs.
For me, it wasn’t necessarily about the mountain. The hike to the summit was only the icing on the cake. It was so nice to be with the other veterans. It had been too long since I’d had the chance to be with so many other like-minded people, who I can now call friends and part of my lifelong rope team. I really missed the camaraderie I found with this team.
In a lot of ways, I felt like a little kid again, running the trails with our packs. And climbing Mt. Whitney gave me the courage and strength to talk out about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and my Traumatic Brain Injury. Since the expedition, I have done several TV spots and a radio show about it. The climb continues to be the catalyst for me to educate others and look for opportunities to serve my fellow veterans.
I’ve continued training after the climb to stay active and healthy as well as continuing my work with different groups, such as the No Barriers team, in hopes of encouraging other veterans to get out and get moving again.