Veterans on the 48 started out as an idea back in 2017 after I had climbed Mt. Washington with my Father, Greg for the first time. We had planned to hike the mountain on a whim as neither of us owned any hiking gear nor did we know anything about Mt. Washington. After emptying our bank account at REI and EMS we were ready (or so we thought). I knew it would be tough and I knew what I was going to have to put into the mountain to reach the top. What I didn't know, was what I was going to get out of the mountain when I reached the bottom. During the hike we would go through these lengthy periods of silence as we were both just too tired to carry a conversation. It was in these moments when you were just alone with your thoughts that I found myself dealing with an inner struggle. My mind would wander and revisit places it hadn't gone in years. Places I thought I had buried. I became angry, frustrated, sad, angry...the repetitive cycle many of us know. I was replaying events and conversations from what seemed like a lifetime ago but as if they just happened yesterday. Stopping for water I would snap out of my trance oblivious to the distance we just covered. We began laughing and telling jokes, swapping stories, complaining together, and blaming each other for this bad idea we had to climb Mt. Washington: but we loved it. Knowing we were struggling together made the trip what it was. But those silent moments would always come back. Too tired to laugh or even talk, we would grow quiet again and I'd fall back into my hole I couldn't climb out of. The anger was just always there. But as we got closer to the summit and we could see the hikers ahead disappearing over what we hoped was the top, the physical challenge of summiting the mountain began to merge with the mental challenge I was fighting within. It was as if making it to the top would somehow purge my mind of the anger I was carrying with me...and it did. As we reached the top, I became overwhelmed with feelings of accomplishment, of self-worth, and of pride in achieving a goal. To be able to share those feelings and the accomplishment with someone I had struggled with for so long to achieve was something I hadn't t felt since the Marine Corps. It was a feeling of community, of belonging, of knowing someone had my back and I had theirs. After that the way down was easy. Not in the physical sense, but in the sense that the anger had subsided. My pack seemed lighter. Days later I began to miss the mountains and when I learned about the NH48, a hiking challenge to summit all 48 4,000 foot mountains in NH, I called my Dad immediately. We would hike many of them together and some on our own but each time that mental challenge I faced on Washington seemed a little easier. I would come home from my adventures feeling more and more like myself leaving the tension, stress, and anger behind me on the mountain. Then it hit me. If this was helping me, maybe it could help others. I created a networking page on social media to find other veterans to hike with and to share photos of their accomplishments on the mountains in hopes that other veterans would see them and want to hike together. I named this page "Veterans on the 48". After having success in connecting veterans through social media, I was able to organize a few small group hikes. As the number of participating veterans in the groups grew, so did my desire to reach more veterans who may benefit from the outdoors. A year later our small hiking community, "Veterans on the 48", became a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit with a Board of Directors made up of 5 veterans who all met on those small group hikes organized through social media. Together, we continue to lead group hikes, have implemented a women's hiking group, became trail adopters, and established a Trail Crew to conduct trail maintenance on our adopted trail. Through donations and fundraising we are also able to purchase hiking gear for veterans, send them to Wilderness First Aid classes, and present each veteran who finishes the NH48 with our official VOT48 finishers patch. Our hope is that by earning this patch, they never forget those feelings of accomplishment, self-worth, and of pride in achieving a goal when they summit their 48th peak and that those feelings carry on in everything else they do in life whether it's on or off the trail................Together, we are the Veterans on the 48.
Our Board of Directors:
We would like to say thank you to everyone who has donated to our organization. Your support and generosity is greatly appreciated. We would also like to send a special thank you to several organizations whose continued support has greatly impacted the VOT48 family.
Thank you to....