Last month, four veterans began a five month journey from Itasca State Park in Park Rapids, Minn., home to the headwaters of the mighty Mississippi, to Morgan City, La., paddling the length of the river in canoes. Starting in the park at an elevation of 1,475 feet above sea level, the Mississippi travels 2,552 miles to the Gulf of Mexico. The trip is called the Warrior Paddle, and is organized by Warrior Expeditions, formerly known as Warrior Hike, a veteran nonprofit outdoor therapy program that supports combat veterans transitioning from their military service.
Honeywell is supporting the four veterans participating in the Warrior Paddle – Annie Balthazar, Mark Fox, Bart Lindberg and Shawn Murphy –with a donation of Excursion Pro boots from The Original Muck Boot Company® and PowerPro® fishing line made with Honeywell Spectra® fiber. The versatile outdoor boot will keep the veterans’ feet dry and protected in the wet and muddy conditions they will encounter throughout their journey, and Honeywell Spectra fiber is a high-performance fiber that leverages the same technology used in bullet-resistant armor to help the veterans catch more fish by delivering strength, durability and sensitivity in this next-generation fishing line braid.
In 2012, after returning from three combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, Warrior Hike founder Sean Gobin – who was recently named a 2015 CNN Hero – hiked all 2,185 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Recognizing the therapeutic effects of long distance hiking, Sean created the “Walk Off The War” program to support veterans transitioning from their military service by hiking America’s National Scenic Trails.
Currently, Warrior Hike supports veterans on six National Scenic Trails including the Appalachian Trail (2,185 miles), the Continental Divide Trail (3,100 miles) and the Pacific Crest Trail (2,650 miles). 2015 is the first year for the Warrior Paddle, and a Warrior Bike, a 4,220 mile journey across 10 states from Oregon to Virginia on the Transamerica Trail, will be added in 2016. Warrior Hike supplies veterans with the equipment and supplies required to complete their hike or paddle. Support for the program comes primarily from partners and sponsors that donate vital equipment, food and supplies each year, providing veterans with a safe, comfortable and peaceful journey as they find healing in the outdoors.
“We are thrilled to support the Warrior Paddle and these veterans as they transition from active duty and return to their everyday lives,” said Sean O’Brien, general manager of global retail for Honeywell’s The Original Muck Boot Company. “We believe in the power of the outdoors as a place to help people release stress, relax and find some peace and the Warrior Expedition team shares our passion, love, and respect for the outdoors. We’re glad our Excursion Pro boots can be a part of such a unique and important journey.”
“It is an honor to be given this opportunity to support the veterans on their hike,” said Sanjay Sharma, segment leader for Honeywell Packaging and Composites. “We are in a unique position of being able to protect active duty military personnel with our Spectra-based armor, and support them as anglers when they are off duty with Spectra-braided fishing lines. We hope to be able to continue to help them on their journey even beyond the hike.”
Honeywell’s support of the Warrior Paddle aligns with the company’s strong support of veterans. It has been recognized with an “Above and Beyond” award from the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), an organization within the U.S. Department of Defense, in recognition of the company’s “outstanding service and continuing support” of U.S. defense efforts. The company has also actively supported President Obama’s initiative to encourage private companies to hire and train more military veterans.