In 2010, Erik and his Everest team led a group of disabled soldiers, all injured in Iraq or Afghanistan, to the summit of Lobuche, a 20,100-foot peak in the Himalayas. Team members’ disabilities ranged from amputations and blindness to traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress. The S2S Lobuche expedition was a tremendous success, with seven out of 10 soldiers reaching the summit. Two years later, the entire team continues to work together to inspire others—soldiers and civilians alike.
More than 5.5 million of the 21.9 million veterans in the US are coping with a service-related disability. Due to the improvements in battlefield medical treatment, they return alive, yet not whole. Service members are trained to depend on each other. Upon separation from the military, many veterans feel disconnected and alone, experiencing a significant and immediate loss in the lack of camaraderie and interdependence as they return to the civilian world and their communities.
Soldiers to Summits (S2S) programs permanently impact lives by helping disabled members of all military branches tackle personal challenges. In S2S, mountains serve as both metaphor and training ground for stretching goals, building world-class teams, innovating through adversity and stepping up to lead and serve others. Our program integrates with the rehab process and helps soldiers restructure how they approach their past and future. Through the S2S experience, we provide veterans with camaraderie and support systems they can depend on.
In 2012, soldiers from the S2S Lobuche expedition will return as mentors for a new group of soldiers as part of the S2S Cotopaxi program. Two Colorado training sessions will teach team members the skills necessary for climbing the mountain—and for adopting a “no barriers” mindset that lets them move forward with their lives.
The program will culminate with an ascent of Cotopaxi, a spectacular 19,347-foot mountain in Ecuador in early December. Throughout the expedition, our website will be updated with daily video blogs, photos and status updates from the team.
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