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Combat Veterans Begin Six-Month WARRIOR HIKE to "WALK OFF THE WAR" on the Triple Crown of America's National Scenic Trails

Today, the first Warrior Hike team of 14 veterans begins its journey at the start of the Appalachian Trail in Dawsonville, GA.
    CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA, March 20, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- For the first time, the Warrior Hike Program will deploy 26 of America's returning combat veterans in three teams to "Walk Off The War," by thru-hiking the triple crown of America's National Scenic Trails - the Appalachian, Continental Divide, and Pacific Crest Trails. The veterans will use this six-month-long, 2000-plus-mile physical challenge to come to terms with their wartime experiences and reconnect to civilian life.

In 2013, 14 returning combat veterans thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail located in eastern United States. This year, Warrior Hike has nearly doubled the number of hiking veterans, and has expanded to include the Continental Divide and the Pacific Crest Trails, in western United States, in order to include combat veterans from around the country.

Today, the first Warrior Hike team of 14 veterans begins its journey at the start of the Appalachian Trail in Dawsonville, GA. The second and third teams, each composed of 6 veterans will begin their thru-hike on April 12, on the Continental Divide Trail in Crazy Crook, NM, and the Pacific Crest Trail in Campo, CA.

The "Walk Off The War" Program provides participating combat veterans with the equipment and supplies required to complete a six-month thru-hike of a National Scenic Trail; coordinates trail town support in the forms of transportation, food, and lodging along the trails; and assists veterans with future employment opportunities through program partners and sponsors.

"Hiking over 2,000 miles during the course of six months gives a veteran an opportunity to decompress and come to terms with their wartime experiences," said Warrior Hike Executive Director Sean Gobin, a former Marine Corps Captain. "The camaraderie that is shared between our combat veterans and the trail town communities helps facilitate their integration back into civilian life. We are pleased to expand this opportunity through the help and support of Continental Divide and Pacific Crest trails and our sponsor community."

This year, researchers from Georgia Southern University will measure the benefits of the "Walk Off The War" Program to evaluate how a long-term wilderness experience affects the well-being of combat veterans. The goal of this research is to demonstrate that long-distance hiking can be used as an effective therapy to help veterans cope with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Major sponsors for Warrior Hike are Ahnu Footwear, Big Agnes, Fujifilm, and Granite Gear.

In 1948, Earl Shaffer told a friend he was going to "walk off the war" to work out the sights, sounds, and losses of World War II. Four months later, Shaffer became the first person to hike the entire length of the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine.

For more about Warrior Hike, trail town events, and hike schedules, visit http://www.warriorhike.com. To learn how to support a trail town event please email warriorhike@gmail.com.

The 2014 Warrior Hikers are:

Appalachian Trail

Name: Scott Brooks-Miller
Hometown: Peoria, IL
Resides: Dexter, MI
Service: United States Marine Corps
MOS: Track Vehicle Repairman
Deployments: Vietnam

Name: Eddie Bryant
Hometown: New Baltimore, MI
Resides: Three Rivers, MI
Service: United States Army
MOS: Avionic Survivability Equipment Repairer
Deployments: Iraq

Name: Matthew Donnelly
Hometown: Shohola, PA
Resides: Atlanta, GA
Service: United States Navy
MOS: Aviation Maintenance Administration
Deployments: Persian Gulf

Name: Arthur Haun
Hometown: Erwin, TN
Resides: Erwin, TN
Service: United States Army
MOS: Infantryman
Deployments: Iraq

Name: Jamey Pierson
Hometown: Elmira, NY
Resides: Elmira, NY
Service: United States Air Force
MOS: Medical Administrative Specialist
Deployments: Air Force Mortuary Affairs Center

Name: Jesse Swensgard
Hometown: Cincinnati, OH
Resides: Cincinnati, OH
Service: United States Air Force
MOS: Aerospace Maintenance
Deployments: Afghanistan

Name: Brian Wing
Hometown: Manassas, VA
Resides: Manassas, VA
Service: United States Coast Guard
MOS: Port Security Specialist
Deployments: Ground Zero New York

Name: Cosmo Brown
Hometown: Groton, VT
Resides: Pittsburgh, PA
Service: United States Army
MOS: Health Care Specialist
Deployments: Iraq, Afghanistan

Name: Robert Crampton
Hometown: Ypsilanti, MI
Resides: Springfield, MO
Service: United States Army
MOS: Radar Equipment Foreman
Deployments: Germany

Name: Calvin Hall
Hometown: Denison, TX
Resides: Van Alstyne, TX
Service: United States Marine Corps
MOS: Antitank Assaultman
Deployments: Southwest Asia

Name; Richard Morrogh
Hometown: Burke, VA
Resides: Front Royal, VA
Service: United States Army
MOS: Combat Engineer
Deployments: Iraq

Name: Todd Rogers
Hometown: East Greenbush, NY
Resides: Brockport, NY
Service: United States Marine Corps
MOS: Infantry Rifleman
Deployments: Iraq

Name: Cecil Thayer
Hometown: Massillon, OH
Resides: Canton, OH
Service: United States Marine Corps
MOS: Infantry Machine Gunner
Deployments: Iraq

Name: Joseph Young
Hometown: Orange, MA
Resides: Orange, MA
Service: United States Army
MOS: Tank Artillery Mechanic
Deployments: Iraq

Continental Divide Trail:

Name: Andrew Brennan
Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA
Resides: Pittsburgh, PA
Service: United States Army
MOS: Black Hawk Pilot
Deployments: Afghanistan

Name: Thomas Gathman
Hometown: Lewisburg, PA
Resides: State College, PA
Service: United States Marine Corps
MOS: Infantry Rifleman
Deployments: Iraq

Name: Christopher Rickert
Hometown: New Holland, PA
Resides: Narvon, PA
Service: United States Marine Corps
MOS: Infantry Assaultman
Deployments: Afghanistan

Name: Ricky Davis
Hometown: Jacksonville, NC
Resides: Carolina Beach, NC
Service: United States Marine Corps
MOS: Infantry Machine Gunner
Deployments: Iraq, Afghanistan

Name: Shawn Murphy
Hometown: Toledo, OH
Resides: Auburn, WA
Service: United States Army
MOS: Military Police
Deployments: Korea

Name: Robert Voorhis
Hometown: Chenango Forks, NY
Resides: Reston, VA
Service: United States Marine Corps
MOS: Electronic Intelligence Intercept Operator
Deployments: Afghanistan

Pacific Crest Trail:

Name: Thomas Bielecki
Hometown: Grand Rapids, MI
Resides: Alto, MI
Service: United States Army
MOS: Infantryman
Deployments: Afghanistan

Name: Kevin Black
Hometown: Clarksburg, WV
Resides: Fallbrook, CA
Service: United States Marine Corps
MOS: Legal Services Specialist
Deployments: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait

Name: Joshua Dunn
Hometown: Dalton, GA
Resides: Mechanicsburg, PA
Service: United States Army
MOS: Ammunition Specialist
Deployments: Iraq

Name: Joshua Shields
Hometown: Mundelein, IL
Resides: Saint Amant, LA
Service: United States Air Force
MOS: Airborne Cyrptologic Language Analyst
Deployments: Iraq

Name: Angela Powell
Hometown: South Haven, KS
Resides: Prescott, AZ
Service: United States Navy
MOS: Damage Controlman
Deployments: Southeast Asia, Iraq, Persian Gulf

Name: Shawn White
Hometown: Virginia Beach, VA
Resides: Olympia, WA
Service: United States Army
MOS: Combat Engineer
Deployments: Iraq, Afghanistan

About Warrior Hike
The Warrior Hike "Walk Off The War" Program is an outdoor therapy program that supports combat veterans transitioning from their military service by thru-hiking America's National Scenic Trails. For more information please visit http://www.warriorhike.com.


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