Our Team at Huts for Vets,
President of the Board, Vietnam Veteran, USMC Veteran
Don Stuber believed he could fly. Given his background in aviation, his Marine Corps recruiter seemed to agree. Don soon found himself in the air. Not in the cockpit, but in the air; a Marine Infantryman, jumping out of the open doors and ramps of perfectly good aircraft and landing, with luck, boots first on a hot L.Z. or forlorn O.P. during the opening salvos of Vietnam’s 1968 Tet Offensive. Later, Don attended the University of Minnesota studying Studio Art and South Asian Studies. In 1975, on walk-about, tracing the spine of the Rocky Mountains north to south, Don stumbled into the Roaring Fork Valley and found, among the hills, streams, and wilderness, a community that felt like home. A recovering adrenaline junky, Don has worked as an artist, photojournalist, furniture maker and building contractor and volunteers with arts and veterans organizations. Don looks forward to his time spent with fellow veterans and welcomes the opportunity to share stories and solace among returning brother and sister warriors.
A 12-year Air Force veteran, Stephen Otero is motivated by the insights gained after moving to Crested Butte, Colorado in 2015, following his own struggles during his transition into civilian life. He sees the natural beauty and recreational opportunities that surround the Colorado mountains as a gateway for better prepared and rehabilitated veterans. Steve shares a vision for U.S. soldiers in guided meditation and yoga during the second phase of their initial military training, and he endorses nature immersion for further recovery. Underlying this vision is the question: How do nature and the mindfulness found in nature affect the brain’s healing and rehabilitation of our wounded warriors? Otero, a Crested Butte local and soon-to-be graduate at Western State Colorado University, is researching his theory that having veterans experience nature and alternative focusing methods will help them recover from service and transition back into civilian life. Steve joined the board in October 2020.
Dr. Erin Wilkinson
Licensed Psychologist, Army Veteran, Board Member
Dr. Erin Wilkinson, Clinical Psychologist, is the Regional Mental Health Officer for the Peace Corps Africa Region currently based in South Africa. Erin retired from the Army after 20 years as a Clinical Psychologist. She has held multiple positions in her military career and multiple deployments. As the Commander of the only Combat Stress Control Detachment for Europe, she deployed to Kosovo, Albania, Macedonia and NATO’s Partnership for Peace program in Slovakia. After the bombing of the US Embassy in Nairobi, Dr. Wilkinson led a Rapid Response Team to provide humanitarian support through mental health services to the host nationals as well as US Embassy and military personnel. She later deployed to Iraq where she worked to repatriate female and adolescent detainees and provide behavioral health services to service members. Upon retiring out of Ft. Carson, Colorado Springs, she worked for Veteran’s Homeless programs, a Traumatic Brain Injury program and other veteran-serving positions. Erin has devoted her time to Huts for Vets for the past 5 years as a board member and co-moderator. She is currently continuing to serve those who serve others through the Peace Corps and covers thirteen countries in Africa. Erin enjoys trail riding (horse), dancing, hiking with her two Aussies, skiing, reading, camping and exploring and experiencing new cultures, people and places. She currently lives in Cape Town, South Africa.
Executive Director, Army Veteran
Erik is an Army veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now a husband and father of two, he serves as the Executive Director for Huts For Vets. He takes ownership of the Huts For Vets mission in shaping the organization to best serve his fellow veterans and honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. Erik is an avid mountain biker, serving as President of RAMBO (Rifle Area Mountain Bike Organization.) He enjoys hiking, climbing, trail building, hunting, and literature.
Health and Fitness Coordinator, USMC Veteran
Chris Joyce is a Marine Corps veteran, serving in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. He is a functional medicine health coach focusing on having veterans take control of their health with a holistic approach. His mission is to prepare future participants physically and mentally for their trip and motivates them to continue the positive momentum post-trip. Chris is a Huts For Vets alumni, staff, and board member.
Mark J. Seery
Mark Seery is an eight-year Army veteran who served in Mogadishu, Somalia as a combat medic and trauma team nurse. He fell in love with the Colorado Rockies in 1986, when he was stationed at Fort Carson. He is passionate about helping veterans. Mark is an avid hiker, reader and surfer (even in the winter!). He has an Associate Degree in Applied Science and a Bachelor Degree in Communications. Mark is a Huts for Vets co-moderator and alumni. He became a board member in November of 2022.
Paul Andersen, HFV Founder and Executive Director, is a journalist, book author, historian and wilderness guide. He has been a professional writer for 40 years and has written fifteen books, hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles, and dozens of television and film scripts. Born in Chicago, he migrated to the Colorado Rockies for skiing, with college in Gunnison as a secondary pursuit that eventually resulted in a bachelor’s degree. Starting in 1977, Paul reported for the Gunnison Country Times and the Crested Butte Chronicle. He again migrated, this time over the Elk Range in 1984 for a reporter/editor role at the Aspen Times where he has written a weekly column for over 30 years. Paul has led multi-day seminar programs at the 10th Mountain Huts on nature and society for the Aspen Institute and serves as its chief nature and culture guide. He also ran wilderness seminars for the Colorado Mountain Club. He founded Huts For Vets in January 2013 and attends as many trips as possible.
Hut Master, Wilderness Guide
Tait Andersen, Hut Master, and Base Camp Manager was born in Aspen and raised in these mountains. Regardless of how far he’s wandered, these mountains have always been home. He is excited to be able to share his love of these incredible places with veterans. He holds a Bachelor’s degree from Prescott College, with a minor in Adventure Education. His master’s degree is in Environmental Governance from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences.
Wilderness Guide, Qui Gong Instructor, Organic Farmer
Jake Sakson, Hut Master, Qui Gong Instructor, Organic Farmer and Wilderness Guide, grew up in Carbondale, Colorado where he graduated from Colorado Rocky Mountain School and developed a strong affinity for mountain sports and natural environments. This background led Jake to teaching at a professional kayak academy in Chile and becoming one of the nation’s top “Big Mountain” telemark ski competitors. He has spent five years studying Qigong and Tai Chi, and he is a certified Wilderness First Responder.
Justin Lincoln, Psy.D, RYT, Staff Psychologist, is a licensed clinical psychologist. He is currently working with the Family Care Center in Colorado Springs, providing behavioral health services to veterans and military families. Though he is a civilian psychologist, several of Dr. Lincoln’s family members are veterans or active duty service members. While practicing some traditional psychotherapy, he also recognizes the power offered by experiential modalities of treatment. He believes strongly that experiences such as those offered by “Huts for Vets” can facilitate significant transformations.
US Army Veteran, Moderator
Mike Greenwood is an Army Veteran living in Colorado Springs, CO by way of Webster, NY, with his wife, Demetria, their daughter, Crisanna, and their dog Vinny. Mike served as an Infantry soldier with the modern-day 10th Mountain Division in both Afghanistan and Iraq. After leaving active duty, Mike served in the storied Fighting 69th out of New York City until late 2008, where he had the privilege of “Walking the Dogs” during the 2007 St. Patrick’s Day parade. Using the Post 9–11 GI-Bill, Mike obtained his BBA from Pace University in late 2011, becoming the first person in his family to graduate from college.
He attended a Huts For Vets trip during their inception year of 2013 and frequently writes or speaks about his life-changing experience. Mike has since participated in outdoor moderating training classes held by members of the Aspen Institute and has gone on to implement this training with hundreds of veterans across the country with Team Red, White & Blue, and Huts for Vets. He currently works as a Director of Veteran Services with The COMMIT Foundations, where he assists veterans as they transition from the Military. Mike has been a leader in the veteran nonprofit space for over 10 years and knows first-hand the challenges veterans face when they hang up their uniforms for the last time. With this knowledge, he has devoted much of his post-military life to assisting other veterans in defining their purpose in life post-service.
Women’s Trip Leader, USAF Veteran
Jen Patronas retired from the Air Force in 2019 after serving for 20 years. She was a medic and later became a technical training master instructor for the Community College of the Air Force and a military training instructor (a.k.a. ‘drill sergeant’) for basic military training. Upon retiring from the USAF, Jen developed a passion for providing support to families in under-served communities. Currently, she serves as the CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs-Alaska.
In 2019, Jen was looking for ways to connect to other female veterans when she discovered Hut for Vets. She believes the trip allowed her space to reconnect with nature and other women with similar experiences.
“In Aspen, I learned that shared suffering leads to unbreakable connections. We all found a secret joy and sense of pride that we were in this together.”, Jen reminisces. She wants to help others find healing through nature and human connection. In her free time, Jen enjoys camping, hiking, fishing, duck hunting, and reading. She resides in Eagle River, Alaska with her husband and 3 children.
Anjanette is an educator, wilderness guide, and an artist. Her facilitation style nurtures connection, creativity, and resilience. After years guiding in many different wilderness areas across the United States and the world she now resides in Colorado where she enjoys cooking amazing meals and exploring the mountains. Originally from California she completed her BA in English & Art from Whittier College.
Whitney Schuette has been a wilderness guide for the past eight years. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Prescott College with a major in Adventure Education, and has continuously maintained Wilderness First Responder certification since 2012 . Most recently residing in Scottsdale, Arizona, Whitney travels throughout the west guiding in various national parks and wild lands.
Farmer, Cook, Wilderness Guide
Ryan Gannaway was born in Missouri and has lived in Colorado for 10 years. She has immersed herself in the outdoors through climbing, skiing, and more recently, farming, and carpentry. She has a Bachelor’s degree in psychology and runs a fermented foods farmer’s market business. She loves wildcrafting and having a relationship with the plants and the mountains where she calls home. Ryan has her wilderness first responder certification.