Tucson wounded veterans sought for Grand Canyon expedition

Tucson wounded veterans sought for Grand Canyon expedition
The raging rapids were no barrier for the veterans from last year's expedition. Source: Raytheon
The raging rapids were no barrier for the veterans from last year's expedition. Source: Raytheon
Tucson's largest private employer, Raytheon Missile Systems, is venturing on an outdoor adventure for local veterans.
Raytheon is sponsoring the "Veteran Wilderness Expedition," which will take 12 wounded veterans on a 10-day journey through the Grand Canyon later this year.
The "Wounded Warriors" project falls under the umbrella of "No Barriers," a non-profit organization that empowers veterans and transitioning service members with physical and mental disabilities to overcome barriers in their lives and unleash their potential.
The veterans will be pushed to their limits with the support of their fellow team members and expedition leader, Nick Colgin.
Colgin was badly injured in Operation Enduring Freedom when a rocket-propelled grenade ricocheted off the side of his Humvee. The Army veteran sustained a traumatic brain injury, a common wound amongst returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Following his injury, Colgin couldn't even spell his name, had trouble talking and needed a cane to walk.
"I came home with this disability that I never expected that was thrust on me in one quick explosion," Colgin said, "I thought I was a ship alone at sea."
Thanks to No Barriers Warriors, Colgin said he quickly realized he's not alone and now he's using his experience to help other veterans going through the same thing.
Colgin now works for No Barriers as an expedition leader.
The next expedition is the Veteran Wilderness Expedition to the Grand Canyon in October and No Barriers is currently recruiting a total of 12 candidates from Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and southern California.
Cindy Bean, chief development officer of No Barriers said the expedition is much more than just having an adventure, "the warriors will challenge themselves physically every day. It changes their perspective about what they're capable of doing again."
The Grand Canyon Expedition is geared to help veterans to not only overcome adversity but to be surrounded by fellow veterans to provide emotional and physical support.
"Wounded veterans may face significant financial challenges as well as emotional and physical ones," Bean said, "so our expeditions are offered free of charges. We can't do them without the support of companies like Raytheon."
Veterans, like Capt. Dennis Chamberlain, who participated in Raytheon's No Barrier Rocky Mountain Expedition in Colorado last year, agree.
"We were all from different walks of life, different soldiers, airmen and Marines, but sharing that experience brought us together. It was almost like a special forces team," Chamberlain said. 
Chamberlain said camaraderie is a huge component to the these trips.
"Just getting together with other veterans who know what you had to do in combat was tremendously powerful. It changed my life," he said. 
Those who would like to nominate a veteran, with a verified and service-connected disability, can do so by visiting the Raytheon No Barriers website. Veterans can also nominate themselves by filling out the online application. The deadline for applications is August 3, 2015.
Tucson News Now's @DanMarriesKOLD will be following the Veteran Wilderness Expedition, along with Raytheon, between now and October when the 12 member team takes on the Grand Canyon.
Follow along on Twitter with the hashtag: #WildernessWarriors.
Learn even more about this upcoming expedition starting at 9 a.m. Pacific time, 12 p.m. Eastern time.
Follow Raytheon on Twitter at @Raytheon, and don’t forget the hashtag: #WildernessWarriors.

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Copyright 2015. Tucson News Now. All Rights Reserved.