When Army Veteran Erik Packard returned from his second tour in Iraq he was struggling with PTSD. He found it challenging to reconnect with life back at home that now seemed so different than before his deployments. Eventually he hit bottom and like so many of our service men and women didn’t know where to turn. In 2012 he attempted to take his own life, but fortunately, and before it was too late, he learned that wilderness heals many things.
If it weren’t for the power of the wilderness and it’s ability to help him heal this may have been the final chapter in Erik’s story. Fortunately he connected with Voyageur Outward Bound Schools and their program for Vets returning from wartime deployments. They use wilderness activities as metaphors for life experiences in the pursuit of excellence. Through his experience in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness with Outward Bound he was able to begin the healing process and start re-building his life.
In 2015 Erik returned to the Boundary Waters to go on his first ruffed grouse hunt in support of Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters. The Wilderness that saved his life was (and is) now threatened by one of the largest international mining companies who would like to create a mining district on the edge of this Wilderness. Erik and other sportsmen and women said that this is not an acceptable risk for such a special place. Pristine waters, towering pines, abundant wildlife and pure silence are what define this wilderness and the power to help people in their healing process.
Listen to Erik tell his story, watch him hunt in the Wilderness and then share in a tasty wild game meal of spatchcocked grouse in the video below.