Seeking Refuge in the Mountains, Purpose After Service
By BRIAN SMITH
The mountains were calling.
Chris was struggling to find a sense of purpose and a sense of self.
The former Air Force intelligence officer had always been interested in the outdoors, but when he started climbing mountains — back in the task-oriented, team-dynamic world he loved about the military — something clicked.
There he found peace. And strength.
“I can go into the mountains and become a person that I like again,” he said. “… (It was) feeling powerful, feeling valued, feeling like I was important to the group. I never felt unimportant, but I questioned the path I was on.”
One day, Chris found No Barriers. Soon, his passion led him to be selected to lead a week-long trip in the mountains surrounding Leadville, Colo. While the group of 11 veterans did a number of physical challenges, Chris said the best part was the around-the-campfire discussions.
Many, for the first time since their injuries, were able to start healing fully.
“We had some pretty deep, introspective explorations with the group that shocked me, but that I loved,” he said. “It was these veterans opening up to other veterans in ways I don’t think they could have, or would have with anyone else.
“When I saw the power of that, I realized I needed to stay involved and get more deeply involved.”
To hear more of Chris’ story and what it means to him, listen to this 15-minute podcast below. Be sure to apply for our programming as we roll out our 2015 suite of expeditions, and if you know a veteran who would benefit from one of our journeys, nominate them.