even exceeds the magnitude of Mount Everest.”
Hometown: Saint Paul, MN
Expeditionary position: Team Leader
What being a soldier means to me:
I think of someone loyal, hard-working, and courageous. Most of my jobs in the Army have involved leading and much like the soldiers themselves, a leader must demonstrate the same qualities. We work in austere environments against great odds, yet somehow the mission is accomplished. There’s a “can do” attitude that distinguishes a good soldier.
Why I joined:
I arrived at West Point mostly because of my desire to play division one NCAA ice hockey. I quickly realized however, that the reasons I went to West Point were not the same reasons I decided to stay and commission as an Army officer. I loved playing, especially at a highly competitive level, but I realized that I couldn’t be on a hockey team forever. The Army naturally promotes teamwork, physical fitness, camaraderie and a winning attitude. It was a natural transition to go from a hockey player to an Army officer, especially during a time of war. It was like knowing that immediately after joining a team you’d get to play in the real games rather than practicing and scrimmaging.
What I fight for:
When you think about a veteran, you should not only think “they have served,” you should think “that person is trained, skilled, and still serving.” There’s too much finality to the term ‘veteran,’ as if everything has been done. Take the term ‘graduate’ for example. It evokes completion and accomplishment, and being able to move on. Veteran is nearly synonymous, yet I don’t think people think of it that way. So the awareness that we are fighting for is that all veterans, regardless of their physical or mental condition are capable Americans who have not only accomplished, or dare I say graduated, something, but are now ready to accomplish more.
Why I climb:
Before we started USX, climbing Mount Everest would have been just another frozen piece of rock and ice that I would have spent hard-earned money on. If I was lucky, I’d slog to the top, snap a photo, saunter back down, fly home and that would be it. Of course, I’d cherish the moment and rejoice in the accomplishment, but now we have more than that. I love climbing mountains and most often I’m drawn to them simply because they are there. But now I have a larger reason that stands up to and even exceeds the magnitude of Mount Everest. Raising awareness for veteran mental health is paramount. While Everest might stand at over 29,000 feet and the effort to surmount the mountain is herculean, I know the effort required to accomplish our other mission will be even harder and last long after reaching the top of the world.
Meet the team
These five soldiers will brave the tallest peak in the world.