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Nov 08 2013

Veterans visit West Big Hole with MWA

Trip to Beaverhead Mountains provides Afghanistan and Iraq veterans opportunities to share experiences

Voices of NexGen

While many Montanans were enjoying the first days of fall weather and others were heading into the wilderness for the opening hours of archery season, a small group of veterans were hiking into Rock Island Lake in the Beaverhead Mountains. This was the first ever all-veteran backpacking trip sponsored by the Montana Wilderness Association. The group consisted of MWA NexGen Wilderness Leaders Program Director Zack Porter along with two Marine Corps, one Army, and one Air Force veteran. Each of these veterans had fought in Afghanistan or Iraq.

It is common knowledge that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) afflicts many veterans returning from service in Afghanistan and Iraq. What many people do not realize is that one of the hardest parts of dealing with PTSD for our service men and women once they leave the military is no longer being around people with the same experiences as them. Wilderness is the perfect place for veterans to get together, tell stories around the campfire, and be around peers who understand what they have been through. MWA is pleased to be able to provide this experience for veterans and looks forward to offering more opportunities in the future.

Rock Island Lake is located within the proposed 94,237-acre West Big Hole National Recreation Area. It also sits within a stones throw from the proposed 44,084-acre West Big Hole Widerness Area. Each of these beautiful landscapes is part of U.S. Senator John Tester’s proposed Forest Jobs and Recreation Act (FJRA).

To learn more about FJRA click here.  Anyone who is interested in Montana Wilderness Associations Veterans Outreach should contact me at tristanpersico@hotmail.com.

Tristan Persico volunteers with the Montana Wilderness Association conducting outreach to veterans. He served as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Operator for the U.S. Air Force from 2006-2011. He is now a student at the University of Montana.