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Outdoors American Legion Post 108 to host Warrior Hike veterans this Friday

The transition from active duty to civilian life poses challenges for any veteran. Recognizing that having to become reaccustomed with day to day life, and to set aside the training and instinctual reactions taught by the military as being no easy feat, Marine Corps Captains, Mark Silvers and Sean Gobin turned to nature to help become reassimilated into life after service.

On March 17, 13 veterans made their way to the Appalachian Trail to begin a six month thru hike of the trail as part of the Warrior Hike's “Walk off the War” program. The Walk Off The War Program is designed to support wounded veterans transitioning from military service by hiking the Appalachian Trail. This weekend, the 13 hikers will be stopping in Franklin to meet with members of the American Legion Post 108.

In 2012, Marine Corps captains Mark Silvers and Sean Gobin hiked to Wayah Bald on their thru hike of the Appalachian Trail to raise money for wounded veterans.The transition from active duty to civilian life poses challenges for any veteran. Recognizing that having to become reaccustomed with day to day life, and to set aside the training and instinctual reactions taught by the military as being no easy feat, Marine Corps Captains, Mark Silvers and Sean Gobin turned to nature to help become reassimilated into life after service.

On March 17, 13 veterans made their way to the Appalachian Trail to begin a six month thru hike of the trail as part of the Warrior Hike's “Walk off the War” program. The Walk Off The War Program is designed to support wounded veterans transitioning from military service by hiking the Appalachian Trail. This weekend, the 13 hikers will be stopping in Franklin to meet with members of the American Legion Post 108.

“We are so excited to be a stopping point for this year's hike,” said Post member Don Bowen. “We are going to have them over at the legion on Saturday for a BBQ supper to help them refuel for the trail.”

On Sunday, March 17, hikers set out on the 2,180 mile journey of the AT trail at their starting point of Amicalola Falls State Park.The hikers will be making their way to Franklin starting Friday afternoon and will stay in the area until they head back out on the trail on Sunday. In addition to being the guests of honor at a BBQ dinner organized by the American Legion Post 108 and the Nantahala Hiking Club, the veterans will be in town for the annual April Fool's Trail Days in downtown Franklin.

“Franklin has gone above and beyond in regards to supporting this project,” said Gobin. “The guys at the American Legion and Bill Vanhorn with the hiking club have all been so helpful and supportive in making sure the veterans have transportation to town and a place to stay and food to eat while they are stopped in Franklin.”

The public is invited to Saturday's BBQ lunch, which will take place at 2 p.m. at the American Legion Post 108 headquarters. The dinner is a fundraiser to aid veterans who participate in the Walk of the War Program with the cost of the meal strictly by donation with 100 percent of the proceeds going directly toward the project.

Hikers keep warm by the fire earlier this month in Springer Mountain, Ga.The 13 hikers chosen by Warrior Hike each receive financial support to hike the entire trail. The hikers, both men and women who vary in age from mid 20s to 49 years, are from all four branches of the military, and have all been deployed to war locations throughout the world during their service in the U.S. military.

The hikers’ stop in Franklin is one of the 35 stops they will make on the 2,180 mile journey of the Appalachian Trial.

The history of Warrior Hike

In 2011, Marine Corps Captains Mark Silvers and Sean Gobin decided they would hike the entire Appalachian Trail to raise funds for disabled veterans. While they were both deployed to Afghanistan, they founded what is known today as Warrior Hike.

The two men spent 2012 hiking the entire Appalachian Trail, from Georgia to Maine, making stops at veterans organizations along the way. After 35 stops, the two men had raised $50,000 to be used for providing adapted vehicles for seriously wounded veterans.

In 2012, Mark Silvers and Sean Gobin stopped in Franklin’s American Legion Post 108 for dinner and bingo.“We were able to raise enough money for three fully handicappedadapted vehicles, two of which have already been completed and the third being built now,” said Gobin.

According to Gobin, after the success of his hike with Silvers, and seeing the benefit the hike has on helping with the transition to civilian life, Warrior Hike partnered with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy to create the Walk Off The War Program. The Walk Off The War Program was established to support wounded veterans transitioning from military service by hiking the Appalachian Trail.

World War II veteran Earl Shaffer was the inspiration for the projet name

“Earl Shaffer was the first person to thru hike the trail in one season,” said Gobin. “After coming home from WW II, he told his family and friends that he was going to ‘walk off the war.’”

Veterans can apply for the program online at www.warriorhike.com. To learn more about the Warrior Hike, to donate to the project, or to follow the 13 veterans in their journey, visit Facebook at www.facebook.com/warriorhike.





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