My name is Erik Villaseñor. I served in the US Army as an infantryman from 2006 to 2012, with two combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. I’m 33 years old. I’m a husband, a father of two amazing children, a reader and writer, hiker and mountain biker. I’m also thrilled to announce that I am the new program director of Huts For Vets.
Life Lessons from Tom Brown’s Field Guide to Wilderness Survival
When I first pondered Tom Brown’s Field Guide to Wilderness Survival, I was sitting in a small discussion circle with fellow combat veterans atop Mt. Yeckel at 11,200 feet above sea level watching a storm huddle over distant peaks.
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.
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.