“In 1948 Earl Shaffer told a friend he was going to “walk off the war” to work out the sights, sounds, and losses of World War II. Four months later, Earl Shaffer became the first person to hike the entire length of the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine.” …….WarriorHike.com
Mark and Sean had begun planning their next mission before they even finished their tour with the Marine Corps. Little did they know that it would lead to the “Walk Off The War” Program, a program designed to help veterans transition from military service back to civilian life.
2011 found Marine Corps Captains Mark Silvers and Sean Gobin hard at work in Afghanistan. By springtime 2012, after separating from the Marine Corps, Mark and Sean had started hiking all 2180 miles of Appalachian Trail that spans from Georgia to Maine.
Along the way, they visited various VFW Posts as a means of fundraising. Friends, associates and those they met along the trail also contributed to their fundraiser. Funds raised were used to buy adapted vehicles for wounded veterans.
On January 8th Warrior Hike presented our first adapted vehicle to SGT Chris Kurtz and family. Thank you so much to all of our generous donors; your dollars made this possible! Also, thank you to all of our partners at Ride Away, Help Our Military Heroes, and Operation Military Embrace. ………..Warrior Hike Faceboook page
As they hiked the Appalachian Trail, they were followed by people across the nation through their posts on Facebook and Twitter. Realizing how beneficial the hike was to their own psyche, Mark and Sean were determined to do more for other veterans.
Another follower turned out to be the Appalachian Trail Conservancy who was interested in starting their own veterans program. From there the “Walk Off The War” Program was born.
Mark and Sean spent the winter season working the Appalachian Trial Conservancy to determine the best way to support veterans hiking the Appalachian Trail. After dozens of meetings and hundreds of emails, here is what they developed:
“Veterans participating in the Walk Off The War Program will receive support in various forms during their hike.
First, the Walk Off The War Program will fund each veteran’s journey by purchasing equipment and supplies required to complete the hike.
Second, veterans will be given lifetime memberships to the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Appalachian Trial Conservancy which have posts and clubs located at trail towns along the entire length of the Appalachian Trail. These posts and clubs will provide transportation, food, and lodging to veterans during trail town stops.
Last, the Walk Off The War Program will assist veterans with future employment opportunities with the numerous sponsors that support the Walk Off The War Program.” …….Warrior Hike
Mark and Sean discovered many benefits to hiking the trail shortly after leaving the military. To name just a few:
--a great period of decompression from military life
--time for self reflection/introspection
--discovering the nation’s most treasured landscapes
I have spoken with Sean several times now, and he is as excited about “Walk Off The War” Program as he was about starting “Warrior Hike”. He makes you long to lace up your hiking shoes and get going even if it is sub-zero and snowy where I am.
The program is open to all veterans from the military with preference given to the wounded. To apply, please visit www.warriorhike.com. If you have any questions about this program please contact Mark and Sean at firstname.lastname@example.org.