He came back from the war with PTSD. But he and his dog found an 'adventurous' way to deal with it.
Sometimes, therapy on a couch just doesn't cut it.
Meet Stephen Simmons.
He's an army veteran who fought in the Iraq War.
That's him on the right.
After returning from war, Simmons struggled to adjust to life back home.
He was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a common affliction among war vets and others who have lived through life-threatening events.
So he started seeing a therapist.
But eventually, he needed something more. He had too much pent-up energy that was presenting as stress, anxiety, and all the other crappy feelings that come with PTSD.
The couch wasn't gonna cut it.
That's when Simmons discovered adventure therapy.
According to the British Association for Counseling and Psychotherapy, adventure therapy usually takes place in the wilderness and "involves the combination of physically and psychologically demanding activities, usually (but not always) conducted in a group setting."
In an interview with the Huffington Post, Simmons told the story of his first experience with adventure therapy. It wasn't a typical group activity, but he did have a friend tag along — his dog, Puppi.
He and Puppi set out to climb a mountain. And despite a dangerous lack of preparation, they achieved their goal. And Simmons descended to safety having learned something critical to his fight against PTSD:
"I realized that I cared a lot more about what happened to me than I thought I did. There's something about balancing on the slope of a mountain, pumped full of adrenalin, and close to the top. It was quite an adventure and accomplishment."
— Stephen Simmons
Soon after that day, Simmons adopted a kitten, which became the third member of his adventure therapy troop.
He named her Burma the Adventure Cat.
There's Burma bringin' up the rear.
The adventurous trio has crossed many a stream and conquered many a mountain since Simmons came home from the war, and they plan to keep it up for as long as they're able.
Adventure therapy has been life-saving for Simmons.
And he believes it can be for a lot of other people. If you know a veteran who's battling PTSD, share this story with them. Who knows? It could be exactly what they need.
Click play to see Simmons, Puppi, and Burma in action: