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Reaching Their Peaks

Raytheon, No Barriers seek wounded warriors for transformational expedition

The raging rapids were no barrier for veterans participating in last year’s Soldiers to Summits Expedition.

Injured in Afghanistan when a rocket-propelled grenade struck near a Humvee,  Nick Colgin suffered a traumatic brain injury. The decorated Army vet could no longer spell his own name or walk without a cane. In fact, he could barely speak.

“I came home with this disability that I never expected which was thrust on me in one quick explosion,” Colgin said. “I thought I was a ship alone at sea.”

As an expedition leader for the nonprofit No Barriers, Colgin is now using his experiences as a wounded warrior to help his colleagues recover and thrive after life-changing war injuries. The organization empowers veterans and transitioning service members with disabilities to overcome barriers and unleash their potential.

Right now, No Barriers is seeking candidates to join the Raytheon Veteran Wilderness Expedition through the Grand Canyon, an adventure trek on Oct. 12-21.

The expedition will push the physical limits of the team, beginning with a seven-day whitewater river adventure and ending with a 7.5-mile hike of the Bright Angel Trail, which gains almost a mile in elevation.

This isn’t Colgin’s first mission with No Barriers. Before becoming an employee, he climbed a 20,000 ft. volcano in South America with the organization in 2012.

No Barriers Warriors Expedition Leader Nick Colgin will help lead Raytheon's Grand Canyon Veteran Wilderness Expedition on Oct. 12-21.

“I didn’t really know what climbing a mountain had to do with helping to get a job or helping me learn how to read or write again,” he said. “I just knew I needed to get some help.”

His experience was so positive, he joined No Barriers and has guided a number of its missions.

The expeditions serve as an opportunity for growth and catalyst for change as these brave men and women stretch boundaries, build teams, innovate through adversity and step up to lead and serve others.

”It’s not just about having an adventure. The warriors will challenge themselves physically every day. It changes their perspective about what they’re capable of doing," said Cindy Bean, chief development officer of No Barriers.

Capt. Dennis Chamberlain, who participated in Raytheon’s No Barriers Rocky Mountain Expedition in Colorado last year, said the adventure brought together a diverse group. “We were all from different walks of life, different soldiers, airmen and marines, but sharing that experience brought us together,” he said. “It was almost like a Special Forces team.”

Climbing a mountain with No Barriers helps veterans regain a sense of community they once shared with battle buddies.

“Just getting together with other veterans who know what you had to do in combat was tremendously powerful,” Chamberlain said. “It changed my life.”

For the Veteran Wilderness Expedition, No Barriers is recruiting a total of 12 candidates from Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Southern California.

“Wounded veterans may face significant financial challenges as well as emotional and physical ones, so our expeditions are offered free of charge,” Bean said. “We can’t do them without the support of companies like Raytheon.”

Friends, family and colleagues can nominate wounded veterans by visiting the Raytheon No Barriers Warriors website. Veterans can also nominate themselves using the online application. The deadline for applications is Aug. 3.

What makes No Barriers unique is that it serves individuals with verified, service-connected disabilities who have been turned away from other programs. “We want amputees. We want blind veterans,” Colgin said. “You name it, we can work with it.”

Participants can expect to leave the expedition inspired and full of passion.

“I’ll never be able to eliminate the barrier of having a brain injury,” he said.  “But what I can do is live a No Barriers lifestyle.” 

Published: 07/08/2015

Last Updated: 07/21/2015

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