By Sharon Smith
After serving seven and a half years as an Air Force combat medic during Desert Storm, I started to feel the mental and emotional impact my service was having on my quality of life.
For years after my time in combat, I struggled with depression and anxiety. I tried therapy and medication but nothing seemed to be helping. I had always loved the outdoors and really enjoyed hiking, so, when I moved to North Carolina, I started backpacking on the weekends. The solace I found in the wilderness was amazing but, after a weekend in the woods, I would return home and fall right back into a depressive state. A friend told me that he had read about a group called Warrior Hike and that they sponsored combat veterans to hike the Appalachian Trail.
I was fortunate to be able to hike the Appalachian Trail with Warrior Expeditions in 2013. The 2,185-mile journey ends at the top of Mt. Katahdin in Maine, where you get breathtaking 360-degree views of the lands below, including what is now the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument.
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