Sean Gobin was a hero long before CNN nominated him for the title this year.
He completed three deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan before leaving the service in 2012. Still dealing with the memories and emotions of combat, he set out to “walk off the war,” hiking all of the nearly 2,200 miles of the Appalachian Trail.
About two thirds of the way through, Gobin realized he’d been processing all the emotional turmoil built up from years in Iraq and Afghanistan. He realized other veterans must be going through the same things and thought if the months he’d spent on the trail had helped him cope, it could help others, too.
Gobin founded Warrior Hike, a non-profit that provides equipment and supplies for veterans to make long distance hikes.
“It’s just like a deployment, except instead of going to fight a war, your mission is to be a civilian again,” Gobin told CNN.
Spending two to six months in the woods, communing with nature, meeting supportive people along the trails, and hiking with other vets helps combat veterans put the memories of war in perspective.
The costs of outfitting for such extreme hikes can be beyond most veteran’s budgets. Warrior Hike provides food, camping gear, and all the other hiking essentials for vets to spend months on the trail.
His work has made Gobin one of CNN’s Top Ten 2015 Heroes.
You can vote for him as your choice for Hero of the Year at CNNHeroes.com. The network will announce the winner at their annual televised award show December 6, and present the 2015 winner with $100,000 for continuing his or her good work. See more of the Hero stories here.
(WATCH the CNN video below) – Photo: CNN video