Warrior Hike – Frequently asked questions answered!
After being on trail with the Warrior Hike for over two months, I’ve run into many of the same questions. In order to mitigate some of these in the future and to give everyone a better understanding of the Warrior Hike Program, I thought I’d answer a few of these “frequently asked questions” in this forum.
The Warrior Hike is not the Wounded Warrior Project
The most common misconception is that the Warrior Hike is associate with or raises funds for the Wounded Warrior Project. Statements I hear often vary from “It’s so great that you’re supporting our troops” to “How are you wounded?” While both programs support military veterans, they help in different ways. We are not hiking to raise funds for fellow veterans but actually hiking for ourselves as a way to transition. Some of us, like myself, are transitioning from the military into the civilian world and what better way to do it than hike for six months! I think the two statements below are the simplest way to explain the difference…
The Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) “serves veterans and service members who incurred a physical or mental injury, illness, or wound, co-incident to their military service on or after September 11, 2001 and their families.”
Warrior Hike “supports combat veterans transitioning from their military service by thru-hiking America’s National Scenic Trails.”
The Warrior Hike also supports veterans regardless of when they served, one of our hikers this year is a Vietnam veteran. A few other major differences between the programs are:
-The WWP has over 70 thousand alumni while Warrior Hike has 72.
-The WWP has hundreds of employees/volunteers; the Warrior Hike is run by one veteran (who hiked the Appalachian Trail himself when the idea came to him in 2012) and his amazing group of ten volunteers.
-The WWP has countless avenues of rehabilitation methods varying from health & wellness activities to mental health support; the Warrior Hike supports veterans to do one thing, hike a long distance trail.
Lately the WWP has taken some heat in the media, I have nothing to add to that because, well, I’ve been hiking for over two months and have no idea what is actually true or not. I do know that the program has helped people that I know and any program that helps veterans is good in my book! I just wanted to explain the difference between the two groups so that hoooooopefully we get less questions about our PTSD, injuries and stop getting thanked for supporting ourselves.
There are no limos waiting to take us into towns!
Unfortunately the Warrior Hike does not have the funds or support to provide us with limo service from the trail into towns. One thing that we get teased a little about is the support we are provided by the program. Each of us were provided with the necessary gear to hike the entirety of the AT. This gear was donated by the companies and cash donations come from veteran posts, individuals, foundation grants, and company gifts many of which came from the places we stop at along the trail. Each week we stop in a town to shower, do laundry and resupply. These stays are provided by the local VFW or American Legion with help of volunteers. The thing is, we are hiking, and just like when I was going to hike alone, we zero or nero about once a week.
Trail Magic is just for the Warrior Hikers
Apologies for this! There have been a few instances where Trail Angels who came out to support us (first timers) forgot there are other hikers out there. There was once where we told multiple other hikers that there would be trail magic and the next gap only to find out that they were waiting on us. We are doing our best to make sure future Trail Angels understand how important that cold soda is to everyone! I did leave some beer magic outside of Paerisburg that hopefully someone enjoyed!
Warrior Hikers are standoffish
Sometimes. Just like any other group, some people are more social than others. There are also good days and bad days… we’re hiking, not everyone you meet is going to be super chipper. We do tend to stick together, but so does any group who starts together. But we do (at least I totally do) like other hikers… I just want to be friends!
I don’t know how much all of this will help, but hopefully it’s easier to understand us a little more when you meet one of us on the trail. We’re just hiking, that’s all. Everyone’s looking for something different and everyone is hiking for their own reason… just like every other crazy person who decided to drop their normal life and hike for over two thousand flipping miles.
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Got to meet up with these folks while doing a section hike from Dicks Creek Gap to Windingstair Gap with the Boy Scouts. Great group and I hope they all make it. I’m following “Trail Pilgrim” on Trail Journals to follow their progress
Starting an organization to bankroll your transition from military to civilian life?
I just hope your claims are legitimate by virtue of the fact that you are all actual combat veterans, and not simply those who chose the military as a career.
What Do You Think?