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Helping Disabled Veterans Get to the Mountaintop

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On 9/11/2010, eight veterans, one veteran family member, a five person film crew, and a representative from our team’s main sponsor, Force Factor Nutrition, summitted Longs Peak, the highest mountain in Rocky Mountain National Park, just before noon.

How did anyone know who we were?  Thanks to FedEx Office, we were able to hand out cards and stickers along the way that carried our logo.  While we were on top of the mountain, we were able to proudly display our banner, thanks to the great team from the Denver district of FedEx Office.

Veterans Expeditions (Vet-Ex) was founded through an initial partnership between Force Factor and Veterans Green Jobs this past March with the stated goal to get military veterans, regardless of disability, spending time in the outdoors to push themselves
physically and mentally.  We chose to summit Longs Peak on 9/11/10 to help to redefine what that day can mean for our nation. While, success in the outdoors is never guaranteed, if one never gets to the base of the mountain and begins the climb, one never knows what might be possible. The eight veterans on our team, over half physically or mentally disabled, and representing the last 40 years of military service, proved to those participating and those observing, that we as military veterans are capable of contributing to a team’s greater strength and accomplishing a difficult mission, regardless of any existing or perceived mental or physical disability.

FedEx, with its founder's military background, and commitment to excellence and high achievement, was a natural sponsor for us at VetEx in our quest for excellence to become the best in the world at providing military veterans meaningful outdoor experiences that help them to take the next step in their own lives.  Our long term goals are to continue these kinds of expeditions to show the strength of veterans in the hope that we might begin to significantly address and perhaps reverse the disappointing trends in the veteran population of higher rates of homelessness, unemployment, drug use, incarceration, and suicide compared to the non-veteran population.

Specifically, we are planning a sea kayaking expedition in Baja California for late February or early March focused on those military veterans of any age and time of service who may have one or more amputation, quadriplegia, or paraplegia; though as with all of our trips, all veterans are welcome.  We are building our 2011 calendar to also include a women’s only veteran trip, a partnership with WW2 veterans, and a leadership training program to teach other veterans how to run expeditions in the wilderness and outdoor areas near their own home towns.

However, to achieve our ambitious goals and expand the program to reach as many military veterans as possible, we will continue to rely on the generous support of great companies like FedEx, and others who turn our dreams into realities and help veterans, wherever they are, to take the critical next step in their own life’s journeys and hope to have a short documentary about the 9/11/10 experience, entitled Reclaiming the Edge: When Veterans Climb by the end of the year.

For more information about our work or the documentary, please visit our website at www.vetexpeditions.com, or get in touch with me at stacy@vetexpeditions.com. [Update: we just released the preview for our documentary!]

Again, from all of our veteran participants and their families, we extend our sincerest gratitude to the FedEx family and are proud to be associated with such a great company and would like to remind you that every step is a victory.

See you in the mountains!
Stacy

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