Helping Heal Vets in Montana Under the Big Sky

Camping in the backwoods of Montana isn't an easy thing to do.  I don't mean a fancy 5th wheel parked at your favorite RV campground.  I mean truly camping.  In the backcountry wilderness.  With a rucksack and bedroll.  Cast iron skillet with flint n' hatchet.  Fishing line and hook, and as always, your favorite outdoor knife.


Imagine making that hike back into the Bob Marshall Wilderness with those things in tow, plus a 75# pack called a "Pig Egg".  Now imagine having to fight demons from serving your country and doing all of that.  Save for the camping part, for many of our nation's veterans, fighting PTSD can become overwhelming.  But one group is making a difference, making those demons face a Montana camping trip they won't come home from.  The idea is to facilitate a veteran's journey from a warrior in a war zone to a warrior in a peace zone.

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How Adversity Leads to Healing with MT Vet Program in Great Falls

The MT Vets Program, based in Great Falls, MT does just that.  Bringing our nation's veterans to Montana to face those demons in the backcountry.  As their mantra states, to "Suffer Well".  And the group makes no secret of the suffer part.  According to MVP, "our trips are not luxury vacations spent in a campground or in a hotel. Our trips are spent navigating arduous terrain, dealing with weather, wildlife, popping blisters, sleeping on the ground, eating camp food, and pushing our minds and bodies to their limits. "

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But from those trials and tribulations, the outcome far outweighs the initial shock.  "But, from this suffering and hardship comes camaraderie, communication, knowledge, laughter, inspiration, self-reflection, and tough-minded healing. We. Suffer. Well!"

Carrying The Pig Egg into the Montana Wilderness with VLTAT

And about that 75-pound Pig Egg that accompanies the Veteran Led Therapeutic Adventure Trips (VLTAT) on each outing.  It comes from the Marine Corps Scout Sniper Community.  The bag is a 30 to 50-pound bag of sand and is carried by the Marine who is attempting to become a scout sniper.  Its only job is to incur pain and suffering but teaches resilience to the person.

In the MT Vets Program, the egg consists of the 7,054 Dog-Tags from the men and women who honorably gave their lives serving in Iraq, and Afghanistan.  So far, the Pig Egg has been on 16 missions, travelled 742 miles and been carried by 126 veterans.

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If you are a veteran who is interested in the MT Vets Program, you can find out more with their registration page here.  The next outing is in May, with follow up trips in June, August and September.  If you would like to help veterans in the MT Vets Program, you can make a donation by clicking here.

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