According to data from the Veterans Administration, there are approximately 68,000 veterans in the United States that are diagnosed with opioid-use disorders. It’s a deadly problem, with the veteran demographic twice as likely to die from accidental opioid overdose than their non-veteran counterparts.
The problem stems from a system of over-prescription and lazy medicine that starts while they are still on active duty, leaving many veterans feeling as if it is the only solution for the root problem of chronic pain and/or post traumatic stress. But one group of special operations veterans has adopted a “thrills not pills” philosophy in an attempt to address their symptoms in a more natural, healthier way.
So they packed up their mountaineering equipment, skis, and snowboards and headed to some of the most austere terrain on earth. Their goal? To promote healing and document it for others to be inspired by.
According to the Kickstarter campaign for their documentary, titled Big Mountain Heroes, their goal is “to inspire people by capturing a seven-day journey into the French, Swiss and Italian Alps by five United States Special Operations veterans who share a love of the outdoors and adventure.”
Isaiah Burkhart served in the 3rd Ranger Battalion as a sniper, and is one of the veterans who went on the trip. “Maybe there’s other stuff out there that you can do, that can help you with the damage,” he said in an interview. “Every time I go outside, I put one more stitch in the wound.”