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Wounded Warriors Climb New Heights

The Soldiers to Summits Expedition Was Five Days of Challenge and Adventure for Ten Veterans

Soldiers to Summits teaches participants to harness their inner strengths in the face of adversity.

There are some things a wound cannot take away from a warrior. The will to meet a challenge is one.

The No Barriers USA Soldiers to Summits Rocky Mountain Expedition, sponsored by Raytheon, was one such challenge. Ten wounded veterans went on the journey Aug. 5-10, a five-day expedition of discovery and challenge.

“The climb doesn’t build courage and confidence. It’s already there. The climb is just a reminder,” said Jason Eckman, director of No Barriers.

The members of the expedition included veterans of the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force and U.S. Marine Corps. They participated in five days of outdoor challenge and adventure, including a ropes course, mountain climbing and river rafting. Throughout the journey, they worked as a team to build confidence and rediscover their inner strengths.

The expedition began with a kickoff event and team building program on Tuesday, Aug. 5, in Boulder, Colo. No Barriers Ambassador Sean Swarner, the first cancer survivor to summit Mount Everest, was the keynote speaker.

On Day Two, expedition participants headed to Leadville, Colo., for a challenging high ropes course, where they used their strength to balance themselves suspended high among the trees, celebrating each significant checkpoint.

Climbers are supported by ropes and climbing equipment as they take each cautious step forward.

For Day Three, the team set off for rock climbing at Camp Hale, Colo., where the U.S. Army 10th Mountain Division trained for winter mountainous warfare during World War II.

The veterans scaled the 150-foot rock wall — gripping and feeling their way forward using their boots, knees, arms, hands and sheer strength to make the climb — pulling themselves up the rough terrain until they reached the top.

Through teamwork, each veteran reached the summit.

The Day Four adventure involved hiking to nearby Giessler Mountain’s tallest peak. Veterans made the four-mile trek, crossing rivers over fallen trees, and trailing ridges that overlooked the canyons and rolling hills of the Colorado Rockies.

They marched toward the summit and rejoiced upon reaching their destination, celebrating together with a team photo. Atop the windy 13,000-foot peak, the veterans held No Barriers flags and bellowed in unison, “Thank you, Raytheon!”

A trek across the majestic Rocky Mountains helps restore hope and self-esteem for wounded veterans.

For the final leg of the trip on Day Five, the veterans went whitewater rafting on the Arkansas River. They battled the raging rapids, maneuvering their rafts to avoid rocks and other obstacles in their path; all while taking in the lush scenery of tall trees, fertile brush and majestic mountains that surrounded them.

The end of the journey was marked with hugs, goodbyes and thank yous. Based on this experience, friendships among the veterans will endure well beyond these five days.

“It’s all about helping these soldiers move beyond their past and start looking toward the future,” said Eckman.

The raging rapids were no barrier for the veterans.

"I am personally passionate about empowering our nation’s veterans. I want them to know that Raytheon supports them," Raytheon Missile Systems President Dr. Taylor W. Lawrence said. "These veterans and their families have sacrificed for our nation. By pushing themselves this week and achieving what they didn’t think was possible, I hope their lives will be forever changed."

No Barriers USA is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to unleash the potential of the human spirit. Through transformative experiences, tools and inspiration, No Barriers helps people embark on a quest to overcome obstacles and live a full life.

Soldiers to Summits helps veterans break through barriers, find their inner purpose and contribute their absolute best to the world. Using mountains as a metaphor, they help wounded service men and women reconnect with their ability to set and achieve goals, lead and serve.

Anyone may support No Barriers programs for wounded veterans, people with disabilities and youth by donating to the cause.

The No Barriers Soldiers to Summit program is cost-free for the veterans. Since 2005, Raytheon has invested more than $21 million in supporting armed service members as part of its commitment to those who have chosen to serve their country.

Meet the Rocky Mountain Expedition Team and learn more about their journey on social media using the #SoldiersToSummits hashtag.

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ITINERARY

Aug. 5
Arrive at Denver International Airport
Keynote presentation by No Barriers Ambassador Sean Swarner
Aug. 6
High ropes and low ropes course challenges
Aug. 7
Rock climbing at Camp Hale, home of the 10th Mountain Division
Aug. 8
Hike a nearby 13,000-foot peak
Aug. 9
Whitewater raft trip through Brown’s Canyon on the Arkansas River
Aug. 10
Depart Denver International Airport


 

 

Last Updated: 08/18/2014

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