‘Sometimes the best medicine is nature’s’
Organization brings Texas veterans together on the trails
BY FUTURE BROWN | HERALD DEMOCRAT
Keep, a non-profit organization based in McKinney, recently took a trek through Grayson
County. The veteran’s support organization has met several times to take hikes around Lake Texoma, but the most recent trip on Aug. 25 was the first time the group had been back to
the lake this year.
“This will be our 5th organized hike at this particular location, but first time back in almost a year,” Warrior’s Keep co-founder and Executive Director John Hardin said in an email. “We hike various trails located throughout Grayson and Collin County. The Hikes are just one component of our VET-REC program, which occurs monthly. Depending on the time of year, we’ll have anywhere between 8-20-plus veteran come out to hike a few miles.”
The Aug. 25 hike was five miles starting and ending at Cedar Bayou Marina in Gordonville.
“The one thing that’s unique about Texas, more specifically the North Texas, is that there is overwhelming support for the veteran community,” Hardin said. “Which is a good thing, because of the 1.5 million veterans that live in Texas, over a third of them live right here. Every veteran organization out there is doing their part to raise awareness or provide a much needed service to the community.”
Warrior’s Keep has a volunteer staff of eight and an unpaid board of directors.
“Our programs are designed to educate veterans on the difficulties of reconnecting socially, while achieving inner peace and healing of the mind,” the Warrior’s Keep website states. “Outdoor engagement activities have been shown to improve quality of life and allow veterans the opportunity to process and reflect on their experiences.”
Through the hikes, Hardin said that he hopes veterans gain more than exercise.
“Hiking is a great way to destress, while gaining a sense of achievement and camaraderie with others,” he said. “Outdoor Therapy has been shown to improve quality of life and allow veterans the opportunity to process and reflect on their experiences. Our belief is that sometimes the best medicine is nature’s medicine.”
Though this was the first time the organization has been back in Grayson County this year, there will be more events to come.
“The majority of our events are promoted and announced through social media, however we do update our website to reflect upcoming events,” Hardin said. “There will be a user friendly interactive calendar on our website soon, to help aid those interested in participating.”
Hardin said that it is important that people take notice of the needs of veterans.
“It’s no secret that the systems currently in place are failing our Nation’s veterans,” Hardin said. “Progress is being made though, with the help of veteran organizations raising awareness and offering assistance or alternative services not traditionally offered.”
The Warrior’s Keep motto is about serving veterans and socializing.
“The Warrior’s Keep is an opportunity for veterans to unite and enhance their quality of life, through engaging in outdoor recreations and adventures together,” Hardin said. “Our motto at The Warrior’s Keep is our O.A.T.H., which stands for Outdoor Adventure Therapy for Heroes. It’s our belief that engaging in outdoor adventures with other veterans allows for real therapy to naturally take place in a neutral, safe environment.”
Warrior’s Keep also hosts regular luncheons and social events for veterans to connect, network with each other and speak openly about their experiences.
“The Warrior’s Keep is a non-profit organization whose mission is to unite veterans and increase their quality of life, through engaging in outdoor recreations and excursions,” the organization’s website said. “We at The Warrior’s Keep believe that sometimes the best medicine is nature’s medicine. Our programs provide veterans with free access to outdoor activities, designed to educate and assist with the difficulties of reintegrating back to civilian life.”
LEFT: The warrior hike is about more than getting exercise. The Warrior’s Keep hopes that the veterans get outdoor therapy during the excursions.
Since 2016, the Warrior’s Keep has made five trips to Grayson County to hike.
The Collin County-based group Warrior's Keep often takes hiking trips in Collin and Grayson counties.