The Land We Defend
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The Land We Defend

(birds screeching) (water flowing) (gentle, uplifting music) – [Voiceover] Nature
is the common language that we have as human beings. And it’s something that we
often have to reconnect to. – [Voiceover] Before we had any Bibles, before we had any books, this was our education. (soft, slow music) When we talk about preserving
and protecting our wild spaces because they restore our souls, what better advocates than
our front-line patriots being front-line patriots now for the environment, for conservation. – [Voiceover] I mean, you
get out of the military and public lands in America are really the best way to continue to protect that idea of democracy and to help fight for
what makes America great. – [Voiceover] Protecting this space, here at home, is as serious
as protecting it abroad. It’s not from every high-rise building or every bank account, it’s from every mountainside,
let freedom ring. – [Voiceover] Anytime you’re
outdoors, you’re there. You’re in the moment together. Your minds are being blown together, and you really start to just
connect with each other. – [Voiceover] I’m Rob Vessels – [Voiceover] My name is
John, last name’s Boeh. – [Voiceover] My name’s Joe Barrow. – [Voiceover] I’m Kim Crumbo – [Voiceover] My name’s Michael Ivison. – [Voiceover] I’m Tosh Kando – My name is Aaron Mair. I was in the Army for 5
years as an infantryman in the 10th Mountain Division. – I did just short of 14
years in the military. – I was a bosun mate
3rd class in the Navy. – I’m a Vietnam Veteran. I was with SEAL Team 1. – I’m active duty in the Air Force. – I served four years in the U.S. Army as a combat medic. – I had to go back to
my hat as a Navy vet. (fast string music) Urban living and coming
back to the civilian world, or any of that, can be a traumatic event, and so, this is one of
the greatest bounties that this organization has provided. This is what makes it worth it. Wow. Wow. You want to talk about therapy? This is the best therapy in the world. (inspirational piano music) – I grew up in Dallas, Texas, and grew up on video games and always being inside. My freshman year of college, I just really loved my first real outdoor camping experience. It’s always kinda had
a healing power for me. – Two weeks after I graduated high school I was at basic training
in Fort Benning, Georgia, so I never really integrated into society. The outdoors offered a place where I could get out of my own head, and recover, mentally. – When you spend all that time overseas being deployed, it’s a
different environment, and then you come back to America, and it’s like, you’re love
for this country just grows. – In 2005 I was diagnosed
– Lookin’ a little better. – with brain cancer. I just was tired of everything, so I took my dogs and my jeep, and I went to a state park, and I hiked for a couple miles and dropped a tent. When I come back to the outdoors, I’m reconnected with myself. I’m reconnected with God. – I did my first hike
in Grand Canyon in ’69 as I was going overseas. (chuckles) As a whole, it’s just so beautiful and so overpowering and so inspirational. (music builds in intensity) – At one point in time, being a patriot, being a soldier, being a protector of the environment was a core value, and I think that it
got silent for a while. This program allows us to bring that back and break that silence. The only silence that we want, is just the silence and
the serenity of nature. (upbeat harmonica music) – I’d never met any of these guys before two days ago, but we share a lot of experiences and share a lot of the hardships of reintegrating. I guess it’s kinda like therapy. (laughs) (rushing water) – Oh my God, why is he completely naked? (laughing) – It might make me look
at the instructions. (piano music) – You begin to realize that this is a big connection of wild areas, and the Colorado River
and the Grand Canyon is only a portion of what’s very important to the American people. – Just the simple things that can restore and repair a damaged or injured soul. The simple things that can allow a father again to talk to his son. A simple place or space to allow for that connection to humanity, to creation again. Nothing can be more hallowed than that. (choking up) Our mission was more than just a program, but it was vet’s mission to help other vet’s missions to come home. Preserving these places,
these wild spaces, allows us to use nature to heal. – I think nature could
definitely get me back to the person I was before the cancer. That was a big part of me
getting out of the service. I felt like I was pulled out of something that I was passionate about, and here I can immerse myself in something I’m passionate about. That’s definitely defending the land that I still love. – My best conservationist, my best lover of the serenity of nature, the best steward who will defend, doggedly, will be a vet. We’re always on watch. We’re always on post, and even at the point
of restoring one’s soul and connecting back to nature and connecting back to family, we’re always on watch. (music intensifies)


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