Asheville can be a sanctuary for veterans

I spent four years of my life at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point on the North Carolina coast. North Carolina is home to some of the country’s largest military bases and ranks third in the United States for active-duty military population.

America has been involved in two major wars since 2003 and thousands of soldiers have lost their lives. An alarming statistic shows that 18 veterans commit suicide every day and many of those are veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome, traumatic brain injury and depression.

Veterans who have found healing in the outdoors consider it a haven, allowing them to move on from their wounds and find meaning in life again.

In the mountains of Asheville, I found my sanctuary among the trees, the crisp mountain air and the companionship of my friends. It is stressful enough trying to assimilate back into civilian life with no wounds, but the wounded veteran’s journey is much more difficult.

There are many amazing programs that reach out to wounded veterans, encouraging them to get outdoors and experience the healing abilities of nature. This Veterans Day, take a vet hiking or volunteer for organizations that help them get outside and begin the healing process.

— Mark Lemke
U.S. Marine Corps veteran and UNCA graduate


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2 thoughts on “Asheville can be a sanctuary for veterans

  1. Debbie Metcalf

    I enjoyed your comment about the healing aspects of Asheville on the wounded veteran’s soul. I am glad to hear that is the case. As the President of Asheville NOW (National Organization for Women), we are working to provide a transitional facility for the homeless women veterans in our area, who have no place of their own to stay. We envision this facility as a network of information and a place of restoration for these beleagured women who have dutifully served our country. Thankfully, the male veterans of WNC have the Veteran Restoration Center at Oteen which operates to help male veterans transition back into society. We are going to build a facility that will likewise accomodate the female veterans in WNC who have served, but how find themselves homeless. Thank you for your comments, Mark, and I hope the community of Asheville and WNC will get behind Asheville NOW and others who are working to build a safe & comfortable place for our homeless female veterans.

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