BOEC in the News

Wounded Warriors at Keystone

Posted January 30, 2012 by Bruce

Caddie Nath, Summit Daily News, Sunday, January 29, 2012Photo Zoom
KEYSTONE — Petty Officer 2nd Class Benjamin Brown’s six years in the U.S. Navy left him scarred inside and out.

After support deployments in Afghanistan, Iraq and Korea, he was medically discharged in 2009 suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and extensive physical injures he sustained while doing military police work at his home base in Washington.

Five years and six surgeries later, he is finally beginning the healing process — on the slopes.

“This is amazing,” Brown said of his experience learning to snowboard Saturday. “All those injuries set you back and put you in your head. Snowboarding allows me to get out of my head. The way I look at it is … if I can face my fears out there, like, I’ve got to do this turn and it’s scary, I’m going fast, I could fall, but I’ve got to just do it, then that allows me to face one more fear out in the regular world.”

Brown is one of 22 injured military service members taking part in the Wounded Warriors program at Keystone this weekend, as more than 2,000 active military personnel from all over the country gathered at the resort for the annual SnoFest event.

For active service men and women and their families, the weekend — packed with parties, races, a wine tasting, a cardboard-derby and opportunities to ski and ride — is an opportunity to get away and reconnect with friends in the military.

For many wounded warriors like Brown, the weekend is part of the recovery process.

The Wounded Warriors program is a joint venture of the Keystone Adaptive Center and other organizations, which fundraise and collect donations to provide the ski weekend, including lodging, airfare and lessons with adaptive ski and snowboard equipment, to the military personnel for free.

“It’s getting folks up and out of the hospital environment,” Keystone Adaptive Center program manager Joe Kusumoto said. “Learning a new skill and getting on the hill is a great way to get some of that adrenaline out, especially for folks with post-traumatic stress disorder. Exercise helps with stress.”

Many of the soldiers and service members in the Wounded Warrior program had never tried skiing or snowboarding before this weekend. For the rest, the weekend was an opportunity to get back to the sport they loved before they were injured.

The Wounded Warrior program was started five years ago and was designed to fit within the greater SnoFest event.

SnoFest, which has been hosted at Keystone for more than 10 years, is officially a recruiting and awareness event for the Air National Guard, which looks to hire former or retired military personnel for reserve duty. But it has become a vacation tradition for many in the armed forces across the country.

“It’s really nice to see military personnel be able to come out with their families and enjoy everything Keystone has to offer,” resort spokeswoman Laura Parquette said.

Keystone and bases around Colorado offered packages and discounts to help service members afford the weekend away.

Click here for full article with photos in the Summit Daily News.


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