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.
Huts For Vets helped change a man’s life
By Erik Schlimmer
During the spring of 2019, when I finished my master’s degree in clinical social work and gained my license to practice, I was anxious to get to work. Since therapists had helped me process my own post-military mental health challenges, I returned to school as a nontraditional student to get my degree and license to return the favor. After all, it is always better to give than to receive. Though I was a New Yorker, I sought an employer that was based in the Rocky Mountains, worked with veterans, and embraced wilderness therapy. Huts For Vets checked these three boxes.
Words by HFV alumnus Adam Stump
After attending a Huts For Vets trip in late June and early July, I left coming away wondering why years of therapy failed time and time again.
When I returned from deployment in 2011, I went to therapy after having a breakdown. In 2013, it was the same. Both times, I came back from deployment with a heavy heart and mind.
By Mike Greenwood, HFV alumnus, trip leader and co-moderator
Revisiting a painful past is never easy, and often not a good thing. I am a firm believer that we should live our lives focused on the future with the lessons from our past being just that, lessons. Over the past few years, I’ve allowed myself to move further and further into the future and towards the person I want to be when I am eighty-five years old. On September 21st, I was given an opportunity to see the person I am becoming through my own eyes.
by Meghan Counihan
I wished to fight with you “my brothers”,
I served my country but my sacrifice was somehow never your equal.
I weaned my infant from my breast,
a month later I covered them with the same uniform, and my shoulders with the same patches as you and I boarded that white bus.
Before dawn broke, my baby slept, as I slung that M-16 over my shoulder.
She awoke that morning; and her mother was gone.
By Air Force Vet Dannelle Coatney-Reichert – 5th Grade Math teacher, Pasadena, TX
A leap of faith, nervous and anxious I stepped on the plane headed to Colorado. I thought to myself, can I do this, will it hurt? When I arrived I was met with open arms and encouraging words from strangers I had just met. I couldn’t help to wonder what was next.
I sat around the table with warriors from all over the United States. The look of nervousness and insecurity was present and precise. The next morning we packed our gear and loaded up to the trailhead. Why was I going to hike this mountain? Four days without technology or hearing from my family would be torture enough, or so I thought.
Published on July 23, 2019 | By: Shawn Banzhaf
A year ago I wrote an article for my LinkedIn friends about my “near death” experience in Aspen Colorado. Read it here before you go on so you get the perspective of my journey.
Thanks for taking the time to read that and coming back here to hear the rest of the story if you will.
The trip in its essence was exactly like before. This time however I was asked back to be a discussion facilitator on some of the readings along the hike. It was a great honor to be asked back for this and a bit surprising based on my previous excursion up to Margy’s Hut. But founder and executive director of Hut’s for Vets Paul Anderson asked for my help and I wanted to be there for him and his team because they had such a profound impact in my life.
Photos and words by HFV alumnus Adam Stump.
Nine veterans from all branches of the military, two mentors, a psychologist and a wilderness guide sat on benches at a long, wooden table at the 10th Mountain Division Hut Association’s Harry Gates Hut June 30, set against the backdrop of the White River National Forest in the Colorado Rockies. The previous days had been filled with a variety of challenges as we read through dozens of readings and talked about our emotions.
Poetry by SGT Michael John Lemke, USA (Retired)
Every OIF soldier knows the starlight of an Iraqi sky, the timelessness of the desert, and the endless tension of a night patrol to nowhere doing nothing. This is for you, who are NOT forgotten, but prayed for to come home safe: