Blog

Huts For Vets: Canyonlands April 18th-20th, 2019

By Amanda Walker

It’s not a secret that our physical and mental health are affected by our environment and the people with whom we surround ourselves. But I think that all too often, when our focus yields to the inconsequential minutiae of busyness and distraction, we forget to intentionally construct our lives in a way that heals and inspires us. Paul Andersen, Founder and Director of Huts for Vets, has created a world for veterans that is separate and other than one which typifies bustling modernity. In this engaging oasis, we veterans are able to gain insight and perspective in a way that often proves illusive, despite our best efforts in finding clarity.

After having returned from my second Huts for Vets trip a little over a week ago, I have just begun to reflect on and unearth what it is about these experiences that I find so life-altering. The full scope of the effects are still germinating; I can feel that seeds have been planted for even deeper healing and change which has yet to come.

Taking Back Your Health

You’re on patrol. It’s dark out, but a deeper dark ever experienced back home. Hours pass until the sun begins to peak over the distant mountains. Ninety pounds of gear on your back, the shoulders straps dig into and compress your traps. Your rifle ready, grip loose but firm. You didn’t sleep much; concerns about the operation and ponders of Mom and Dad flooded your brain relentlessly as you laid in your rack. A small smooth rock nestled in between the sole of your boot and the soft flesh of your foot. Each step piles on a fraction of pain. All of that doesn’t matter now. Focus on the mission keeps those thoughts of nostalgia, doubt, fantasy, pain out of your mind as you step it out. Selfishness has been stripped from you years ago – boot camp instills putting your brothers and sisters’ wellbeing before you. You move forward, the only direction to go.

HFV on the The Eagle Nation Podcast

Given the philosophical nature of discussions during Huts For Vets programs, Exec. Dir. Paul Andersen was invited for an interview on this podcast. Huts For Vets is grateful to JJ Pinter and Team RWB for making this happen. We appreciate the sharing of ideas as a step toward greater understanding of the world, each other, and ourselves.

HFV Suggested Reading

What we’ve discovered in our six years of leading men and women veterans and active duty service members into the wilderness is that most participants are philosophers and deep thinkers. We believe this is because military service has exposed many to deep reflections of life, death, and the meaning of existence. The level of conversation is refreshing in a modern age where most people barely look up from their screens to acknowledge those around them.

Year-End Update for 2018

‘Huts For Vets’ Builds Tipi Base Camp and Targets National Veterans Groups

By Paul Andersen, Executive Director, Huts For Vets

Huts For Vets is now a landmark in the Roaring Fork Valley on a spectacular site with three large tipis overlooking the Elk Range. This prime piece of rural ranch property is a long term loan by a generous local ranching family that has been a HFV supporter from the day we offered our first programs to veterans in 2013.

Lonely War

By Brian Porter, Huts For Vets, Director of Operations | Song performed by Mack Bailey

I have used writing as a form of therapy for years now. Mostly it revolves around my experiences with war and I hope to learn from what I do write to better myself. Two years ago, I finally visited a friend I had served with in the Marine Corps. We had remained in touch for 20 + years but had not seen one another in that time. After our visit, I thought about how long it had been since we had seen each other, how great it was to spend time with someone that would, and has, put their life in danger so that you could live your life. I started thinking about just before we went to battle, the promises we made to one another, “If I don’t make it, please live your life for me.” I had made that promise, now, I sometimes find it hard to keep.

The Healing Tree

By Mike Greenwood, Tenth Mountain Division Veteran and Huts For Vets Alumnus

I find myself lying completely still in a rain storm, on my back, looking up to the sky wondering what I’m doing here and why can’t I move. A few seconds later I feel a rush come over my body as if I am falling off a building, heading directly for the concrete below me. I am stuck in this fall…

Bringing Philosophy to Veterans in the Colorado Wilderness

Lightning flashed, thunder crashed, and rain drummed on the roof of Margy’s Hut in August 2016 as Aspen Institute senior moderator Pete Thigpen led a dozen US men and women combat veterans through a discussion of “The Melian Dialogue,” by Thucydides.

Thigpen, a Marine Corps veteran from the 1960s, opened with a tutorial on how to lead a seminar. The seminar approach is used by Huts For Vets to introduce veterans to philosophical discussions conducted amid towering mountain peaks and plunging timbered valleys in the Hunter-Frying Pan Wilderness.