To promote world peace & understanding through adventure.
The mission for Adventure Not War is to climb, ski and adventure in all the places where I fought, cleaned up after war, or was supposed to go to war and bring a few friends with me--especially friends who served in the same places I did whenever possible. The list includes Abkhazia, Afghanistan, Angola, Bosnia, and Iraq. Siberia is also on this list because as a child in the 80s, getting sent to Siberia was the bogey man of the Cold War.
The idea for the project, near as I can tell began in a conversation with my parents when I was still in Iraq in the winter of 2007. I told them I hoped to come back to Baghdad in ten years to see how the people had taken their beautiful city back. I never could have imagined what is happening in Iraq now and wanted something more for the Iraqi people than what we left them. My roommate in Baghdad, Brad G. reminded me that I talked about skiing in Iraq when we were deployed.
I came home from war. War never really left me. Some of my friends came back in boxes. Others filled those boxes Stateside.
It wasn't, however, until I began to climb two years after I came home from Iraq that I really began to dream about what at first, seemed more like a homecoming project. I didn't, and in someways still don't, feel like I've been able to come home from war. Everywhere I had been from my first deployment in 2003 to leaving Iraq in 2007, I was unhappy about how I had to leave each time and felt forced out even if I did not ask to go in the first place. I began to think if I could return to these places on my own terms, I could leave on my own terms.
In order to move forward in my own life, first I feel like I have to go back so that's what I'm doing--going back to ski and climb with a few friends.
How ANW inspires further adventure travel to these nations, support positive post-war development, and increase conservation efforts to benefit the local community will define the project's success.
After the first expedition to Angola in 2015, I realized that these places however, were not places I wanted to return to, just so I could leave again. Instead, I want to return to these places and highlight the beauty of these countries' people and landscape and bring my friends to experience and show joy in countries typically associated with fear or despair.
The vehicle to do that is through telling the story of these places through the lens of adventure: climbing, skiing, over landing, boating, maybe even paragliding. Adventure and the outdoors saved my life and I believe it can also be a fundamental ingredient on the road to a sustained peace.
If I am, if the teams that participate in Adventure Not War are successful, we will inspire others to go and explore these countries and regions, meet the people, and welcome the 'others' back into our nation and our lives as well.
You will notice I do not have projects identified for Afghanistan or Siberia. I am waiting to learn more about the security situation in Afghanistan before proceeding further. As for Siberia? I hope to dogsled the length of the Lena River--but even for me that seems like a really far out, far into the future project--so I'll wait till I finish off the other objectives first!