You’re a Grand Old Flag

You’re a grand old flag
By Paul Andersen, Founder and Exec. Dir. Huts For Vets
(From his Aspen Times newspaper column Monday September 12, 2016)

The American flag was presented to me last week by a team of combat veterans. I had never looked at the symbol of our nation the way I did then.

The presentation was made during the final Huts For Vets trip of our busiest summer yet, where we took over 50 veterans into the wilderness for healing opportunities at the 10th Mountain Huts of Aspen.

“Huts For Vets has truly changed my life and is making me a better father, husband and leader in my community,” said Mike Greenwood, an Iraq War veteran of the Tenth Mountain Division, who handed me the neatly folded flag.

My Huts for Vets Experience

Life After Huts for Vets
By Erik Villaseñor

Spending three days in the wilderness surrounded by vast mountain ranges, lush forests, and running streams can do amazing things to your mind, body and soul. Mix in the camaraderie of a small group of veterans led by an organization with a passionate sense of service to help heal veterans, and you have yourself a life changing experience – one that I truly believe can help those who have experienced war, have been greeted by the Darkness, and look to acknowledge its presence in a healthy and respectful way.

By integrating a wilderness therapy program into a warrior’s return into society, you’re arming him/her with an alternative way to cleanse the warrior mind and spirit. Studies have shown, and history tells us, that Mother Nature plays a huge role in mental health. Our connection to nature is primal and deeply rooted in our psyche, playing a crucial role in our cognitive functions (re: Your Brain on Nature). This leads to the conclusion that those who have experienced combat should return to the wilderness to seek peace, solitude and meaning in their now transformed mind.

Women in the Military

Women in the Military
A Perspective from Vietnam

By Lt. Col. Janis Nark, Huts For Vets

The first military women to arrive in Vietnam were nurses. It was 1956. As the American presence in Southeast Asia grew, so too did the number of young women who served. In all, nearly 8,000 military women, and thousands more who served in the civilian sector, were there.

About 83% of us were nurses. The rest held positions in special services, supply, air traffic control, cartography, the USO, American Red Cross and many other jobs in support of our combat troops.

We were all fairly young when we volunteered to serve our country, and many of us were woefully naïve in believing our recruiters’ promises; mainly that we could be stationed anywhere in the world that we wanted, and that Vietnam was “strictly voluntary.”

Destructive love

Destructive love
By: Jose Oscar Roman – HFV Alumn

I am in a relationship of destruction and I am at peace with it.
I am not looking to escape this torture because this has become my norm.
I am in a continued nightmare from which I refuse to awaken from.

Give me pain, give me struggle my actions beg.
Give me discomfort and give me affliction my mind screams.
Give me all that is bad and all that is hate.

Silver Bird of Metal

Silver Bird of Metal
By: Jose Oscar Roman – HFV Alumn
(I wrote this while awaiting my flight to return back home from Huts for Vets.)

Here I am being kidnapped back in to the wilderness.
I await here in my ocean blue seat facing the transparent wall.
A wall that shows my aero ferry that will transport me back to the silence of chaos.
Back to the calamity that we have filled ourselves with, the chaos we call life.
A labeling that was done out of sheer deceit of what a true life entails.

Wilderness Therapy on the 10th Mountain Trails

“A wilderness area may well have more psychological importance than hundreds of beds in a mental hospital.” – Rod Nash

Wilderness therapy programs are springing up around the US as alternatives to institutional treatment settings. Researchers have discovered that therapeutic relationships are often forged more quickly in wilderness because of the forced intimacy of a small group walking within the immensity of a National Forest. This enables ideas and experiences to be more easily and openly shared, setting the stage for meaningful interpersonal communication.

With three full days in the mountains the effects of wilderness are, on their own, therapeutic. The static of the outside world becomes muted and the senses grow more acute. A calming remove from the tumult of the world is quickly achieved as there is no cell or internet reception. Focus on the ideas explored in the seminar becomes more pronounced while immersion in nature is unfiltered.