A Walk in the Woods Leads to an Unexpected Journey for This Veteran

A Walk in the Woods Leads to an Unexpected Journey for This Veteran

Sean Gobin

Sean Gobin

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A walk in the woods leads to an unexpected journey for this veteran. http://bit.ly/1QqjcSi #VeteransDay @WarriorHike | via @PointsofLight
Monday, November 9, 2015 - 6:45pm

This week, in honor of Veterans Day, we celebrate the men and women who have served our country, who today are channeling that impulse to serve to make a difference in their communities. Meet Daily Point of Light Award honoree, Sean Gobin.

Sometimes a walk in the woods isn’t just a walk in the woods.

Sometimes, that walk is a healing journey, a revitalizing chance to process, reflect and rediscover faith in humanity and oneself.

That’s what happened to Sean Gobin, a 15-year veteran of the Marine Corps who left the military and returned to Charlottesville, Virginia, after three combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Gobin had always wanted to hike all 2,185 miles of the Appalachian Trail, which he did with another veteran buddy.

“About two-thirds of the way through I realized that something profound was going on,” says Gobin, 40. “The hike was a therapeutic experience, something I thought other veterans could benefit from.”

Since 2001, more than 2.5 million veterans have returned home from Iraq and Afghanistan but many have never transitioned and continue to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Gobin saw a way to change that, and founded Warrior Hike, a nonprofit outdoor therapy program that helps combat veterans transition by hiking the country's national scenic trails.

Spending eight hours a day for up to six months in nature offers the time and space to decompress, explains Gobin. Hiking with other veterans – people who understand what you’ve been through – is also critical, he adds.

“Every week our veterans are hosted by a local family for a meal and an overnight stay along the way. When you’ve experienced the worst of humanity, it’s easy to become cynical. Reconnecting to simple is a healing thing,” says Gobin. 

Read the rest of the story on the Points of Light blog.