Stacy Bare is a climber, skier, and OIF veteran. He used climbing and time outside to help adapt to life after Baghdad and credits time outside for his four years of sobriety. He is a brand ambassador for The North Face and Keen shoes and is the director of Sierra Club Outdoors, which connects 250,000 a people each year outdoors through programs for local communities, youth, and the military and veteran community. He was also named a 2014 National Geographic Adventure of the Year with Nick Watson.
U.S. Air Force photo illustration/Airman 1st Class Corey Hook
There is a statistic that has been widely quoted in the veteran community that highlights an estimated 22 veterans a day are committing suicide. It is a deeply troubling statistic and has galvanized the veteran movement, both from inside the military and veteran communities, and externally, to bring about a wide range of programming nationwide. The statistic, however, is widely misunderstood.
Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.
When I came home from war, it was time outside that kept me alive, and ultimately connected me to a community of veterans and non-veterans who helped me later to thrive. I realized it was the country --- the very physical country contained in all its forests, mountains, beaches, tundra, prairie, and everything in between --- that I fought for. It was these lands and trees and waters that allowed me to meet my fellow resident as an equal; we had the same opportunities, we had the same access. Even if we didn’t have all of our limbs, or all of our mind still with us, we could make what we chose to make of a day outside.