To honor our fallen veterans on Memorial Day, I would like to tell you about one very special veteran who has given so much to his country and to other veterans coming back from the war.
Stacy Bare is a tall, strong, trustworthy and compassionate man who exudes the confidence of a natural leader. Leading men in battle had been a childhood dream of Stacy’s, yet it played out a bit differently than he expected. After his trials in the war and battling his emotional wounds after discharge, Stacy found another way to lead men and women. He started an organization called Vet Expeditions (www.vetexpeditions.com), a nonprofit organization that helps other veterans, like himself, overcome the emotional injuries incurred by their experiences in the military through outdoor leadership and training. Stacy challenges vets to conquer not only climbing mountains, but also their fears; helping them find a lost belief in themselves, as well as a new beginning along the way.
The following is Stacy’s story from The Imagine Project: Stories of Courage, Hope and Love. It is a telling story that reflects the trials of the men and women who serve our country and one man who decided to take his pain and make a difference.
Imagine…being 11 years old and knowing you want to lead men into combat.
Imagine…getting an ROTC scholarship and feeling like you got picked first in the NFL draft.
Imagine…going to war in Iraq.
Imagine…a barracks room full of 18 other men.
Imagine…knowing that statistically, three of them will not come back, but you don’t get to know who—not yet.
Imagine…coming home from war and no one even knows there is a war, much less where that war is on the map.
Imagine…people afraid of you because you went to war.
Imagine…the depression, the suicidal thoughts, losing friends, their lack of understanding, your inability to adjust, the fits of rage, and the isolation of returning home from war.
Imagine…feeling granite, earth, having solidarity in your hands as you go vertical on a rock face for the first time since coming home from the war.
Imagine…being on the side of a mountain, and the sense of utility…the sense of self…the sense of purpose coming back to you.
Imagine…bringing this experience to thousands of veterans around the world.
Imagine…bring non-veterans up on the rock with veterans.
Imagine…a world where non-veterans listen to veterans and take on the burden of reintegration, treating them like normal people, giving them a chance.
Imagine…knowing we are all the same. Don’t imagine—just know it.
Beyond creating and supporting Vet Expeditions, Stacy is now in charge of all outdoor programs for the Sierra Club. He lives in Utah and feels great satisfaction that his job offers the opportunity to help others.
On this Memorial Day, honor those veterans you know and love, as well as those you don’t, especially those who have sacrificed so much of their lives and livelihood for our freedom.