Warrior Hikers "Walk Off the War" on the AT

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Warrior Hikers in Hot Springs, NC at Trailfest 2013 after being honored by the town's mayor. ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

Hot Springs, North Carolina, welcomed Appalachian Trail (AT) hikers and wannabees to Trailfest 2013 over the weekend of April 19th.

And a good time was had by all.

After hanging out with a few of the folks who are part of the "Walk Off the War" AT trek, I realized that I was all confused about who was part of what group.

I thought the 14 former military men and women hiking the AT this year as Warrior Hikers were somehow connected to the Wounded Warrior Project.

Wrong.

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Warrior Hikers leading the Trailfest 2013 parade. ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

Walk Off the War is primarily sponsored by the organization Warrior Hike, in conjunction with our friends at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

Warrior Hike was founded in 2011 by two Marine Corps Captains, Mark Silvers and Sean Gobin, during the time they were deployed in Afghanistan. A year later, they hiked the Appalachian Trail together and met with veterans groups and other organizations to raise money to help wounded veterans.

That's probably where I got them mixed up with a different group.

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Warrior Hiker Adam "Machine" Bautz, with some old goat who thinks it's still 1968.

Let me be all diplomatic for a moment, please.

You have the right to give everything you own -- including the clothes off your back -- to anybody you like. That's your business. You can leave all your money to your cat and live under a bridge naked, for all I care.

Just take a moment, please, to Google Wounded Warrior and look into the impact they're having on the lives of vets. When I did, it was obvious to me that there is a big difference between how they allocate their funds and how others allocate theirs.

My donation goes to Warrior Hike, personally. You are free to make a different choice.

This is America. The land of the free ... because of the wars won by our Armed Services. They deserve the best, in my humble opinion.

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Warrior Hikers Chris Galemore from Pooler, GA & Rob Carmel from Olympia, WA. ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

These men and women might be heroes in our estimation, but they see themselves as regular citizens who answered the call to duty.

Many were wounded. Each one was scarred.

All deserve a bit of help for a sponsored trip up the Appalachian Trail.

The Warrior Hikers met a vet along the Trail and cared for him as one of their own.

That's what Warrior Hike is all about.

Jesse Bier will tell you the war messed him up.

When he got out, he went home and stayed inside. Some people call that Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). For Jesse, it was known as "life."

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Jesse Bier & Cooper ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

Jesse picked himself up. Went outside. Hit the Trail with his companion, Cooper, who is trained to care for Jesse in amazing ways.

Now, Warrior Hikers care for Jesse & Cooper too. They have their backs. They won't be left behind.

I thank God for Jesse and for Cooper and for all the people who served America and do so today.

When we no longer care for those who fight for America, I doubt America will be worth fighting for.

Do your country a favor. Return a favor to a vet.

If you don't know any, pop a couple of bucks to Warrior Hike. They'll know how to use your donation wisely and honestly.

Thanks.

Click Here for Warrior Hike Info

Click Here for the Warrior Hike Class of 2013

Please Thank These Warrior Hike Sponsors

Click Here for Friday Night at Trailfest 2013


Tags: Events, Tourism, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Appalachian Trail, Hiking, and Festivals

About the Author Robert Sutherland:
Robert Sutherland is a travel writer enjoying life. Robert has two adult daughters and six grandchildren.
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