+
More

The incredible reason this veteran hiked nearly 40 miles through the Rocky Mountains.

True
DAV

During a routine medical exam in 2015, army veteran Will Montgomery got a diagnosis he never expected.

The VA diagnosed him with post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as a traumatic brain injury. He was retiring early from the Army due to an unrelated injury when his disabilities were discovered.

“I was shocked,” he explains. “I didn’t really think I had a problem.”


With so much loss around him, his initial struggles with depression and anxiety had felt like a normal part of military life.

“We all go to war, we all lose somebody that’s close to us. Some of us lose more than others,” he says.

And Montgomery’s losses had affected him far more than he thought. In 2011, a rocket attack on the base where he was serving in Iraq had claimed the lives of three of his fellow soldiers in 2011. And while he had survived the attack, he didn’t leave unscathed. The memories and trauma of those events would echo on.

[rebelmouse-image 19346029 dam="1" original_size="2560x1707" caption="Photo by israel palacio/Unsplash." expand=1]Photo by israel palacio/Unsplash.

It wasn’t until he started to transition back into civilian life, though, that he realized just how much of an impact that trauma had on him.

“When you get out, you start trying to adapt into the civilian world, and people start to look at you like, ‘You’re not right.’”

Montgomery was struggling to relate to other civilians, who didn’t seem to understand him. He began longing for the camaraderie that he’d found in the military, but it was difficult to find. He was having thoughts of suicide and started drinking heavily to cope. This led him to isolate himself and even landed him in jail for starting fights.

“You just kind of feel like you’re broken at that point,” he says.

To make matters worse, in his home of Northwest Colorado, the nearest mental health provider that would take his insurance was nearly four hours away by car. While he was willing to make the journey, it wasn’t sustainable over the long term. And without access to reliable care, he faced an uphill battle.

That’s why he decided to reach out to the Denver Veterans’ Affairs office to ask for their help.

Images via Will Montgomery.

They connected him with an intensive, seven-week treatment program for veterans with PTSD where he was finally able to get the proper support he needed to better address his trauma. With the help of cognitive and occupational therapies, which taught him new coping and social skills, he began to see how he could find his place again in the civilian world.  

He sobered up and he started working out again, and, one day at a time, he began to rebuild his life.

“I wanted to change my path and be a husband and be a father again,” he says. Recovery wasn’t just about sobriety and therapy. It was also about finding his way back to himself.

“When I got out of the Army, I had to find a whole new identity of who I was. I felt like I lost me,” he says.

To rediscover his sense of self, he wrote down different affirmations on sticky notes, and put them all around his house: “I’m a father,” “I’m a husband,” “I’m successful," “I’m a veteran,”

“Just little things, so that when I walked around, it’s like, ‘That’s who I am,’” he explains.

Like many survivors, Montgomery had taken his diagnosis to mean that something was wrong with him but with time, he was able to push back against that assumption, realizing he was much more than a diagnosis. And through that process, he found his calling — by being visible, he wanted to show others that trauma survivors are much more than the labels that their doctors give them, too.

“Anybody with PTSD needs to understand that just because we have it, we’re not broken,” he says.

Passionate about fitness as part of his own recovery, he wanted to challenge himself physically, but he also wanted to be visible for other survivors who may be struggling in silence. That’s why Montgomery decided that he would hike around Colorado.

So in May 2017, Montgomery walked from Craig to Hayden, Colorado, 17.6 miles, to raise awareness for PTSD.

With the support of his local veteran organizations, his walk got the attention of community members, who were eager to help. While he hadn’t expected to raise money, people opened up their wallets, and he was able to raise a thousand dollars for a local veteran in need. He quickly realized he was onto something.

And that’s why, this last May, he did it again. Only this time, he pushed himself even further.

He hiked nearly 40 miles through Rabbit Ears Pass in the Rocky Mountains — which ranges from 6,000 to almost 10,000 feet in elevation — raising nearly 4,000 dollars for local veterans along the way. Joined by Army veteran Ryan Fritz and Tracy Santistevan, the hike even got the attention of local news media, who were inspired by their determination.

“[The hike] was actually nerve-wracking,” he laughs. “I was sore the next day, but I lived.” The hike took an entire day to complete, but it became a powerful symbol of perseverance for Montgomery and survivors like him.

To honor survivors, he carried 42 names with him in his vest during the hike. “These were people that either suffered from PTSD and died in combat, or … [survived but] don’t know how to cope with it yet,” he says. “Those are people I carried with me in my vest that day.”

And Montgomery isn’t stopping with just two hikes. He’s already planning next year’s hike, which he plans to make even more challenging by making his way across the entire state of Colorado — close to 200 miles — with a group of other advocates like him.

“The key is to get awareness out there,” he explains.

In true army fashion, Montgomery hasn’t forgotten his comrades. Looking to the future, he’s eager to do more to empower veterans and civilians alike.

For him, service to others is just the military way. “You made a bigger commitment than to just yourself,” he says. “We didn’t do it for us.”

That’s why he returned to college to get his associate’s degree in psychology, which he’s now using to establish a veterans support group in his local community. He also offers free fitness coaching to new army recruits to prepare them for basic training and as a next step, he plans to start a gym where he hopes to offer free gym memberships to veterans, as well as recovering addicts who commit to staying sober.

While his life changed forever the moment he was diagnosed with PTSD, his pain has given him an even greater purpose.

No longer letting his mental health diagnosis hold him back, he’s determined to use his experiences to lift up others. “[In the Army,] I wasn’t the leader who wanted my name recognized,” he explains. “I wanted my soldiers recognized.”

Nature

Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave that’s been closed for 70 years

You can only access the cave from the basement of the home and it’s open for business.

This Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave.

Have you ever seen something in a movie or online and thought, "That's totally fake," only to find out it's absolutely a real thing? That's sort of how this house in Pennsylvania comes across. It just seems too fantastical to be real, and yet somehow it actually exists.

The home sits between Greencastle and Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, and houses a pretty unique public secret. There's a cave in the basement. Not a man cave or a basement that makes you feel like you're in a cave, but an actual cave that you can't get to unless you go through the house.

Turns out the cave was discovered in the 1830s on the land of John Coffey, according to Uncovering PA, but the story of how it was found is unclear. People would climb down into the cave to explore occasionally until the land was leased about 100 years later and a small structure was built over the cave opening.

Keep ReadingShow less
Architectural Digest/Youtube

This house was made with love.

Celebrity home tours are usually a divisive topic. Some find them fun and inspirational. Others find them tacky or out of touch. But this home tour has seemingly brought unanimous joy to all.

“Stranger Things” actor David Harbour and British singer-songwriter Lily Allen, whose Vegas wedding in 2020 came with an Elvis impersonator, gave a tour of their delightfully quirky Brooklyn townhouse for Architectural Digest, and people were absolutely loving it.

For one thing, the house just looks cool. There’s nothing monotone or minimalist about it. No beige to be seen.

Keep ReadingShow less

Finally, someone explains why we all need subtitles

It seems everyone needs subtitles nowadays in order to "hear" the television. This is something that has become more common over the past decade and it's caused people to question if their hearing is going bad or if perhaps actors have gotten lazy with enunciation.

So if you've been wondering if it's just you who needs subtitles in order to watch the latest marathon-worthy show, worry no more. Vox video producer Edward Vega interviewed dialogue editor Austin Olivia Kendrick to get to the bottom of why we can't seem to make out what the actors are saying anymore. It turns out it's technology's fault, and to get to how we got here, Vega and Kendrick took us back in time.

They first explained that way back when movies were first moving from silent film to spoken dialogue, actors had to enunciate and project loudly while speaking directly into a large microphone. If they spoke and moved like actors do today, it would sound almost as if someone were giving a drive-by soliloquy while circling the block. You'd only hear every other sentence or two.

Keep ReadingShow less
Health

Oregon utilizes teen volunteers to run their YouthLine teen crisis hotline

“Each volunteer gets more than 60 hours of training, and master’s level supervisors are constantly on standby in the room.”

Oregon utilizes teen volunteers to man YouthLine teen crisis hotline

Editor's Note: If you are having thoughts about taking your own life, or know of anyone who is in need of help, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a United States-based suicide prevention network of over 200+ crisis centers that provides 24/7 service via a toll-free hotline with the number 9-8-8. It is available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.

Mental health is a top-of-mind issue for a lot of people. Thanks to social media and people being more open about their struggles, the stigma surrounding seeking mental health treatment appears to be diminishing. But after the social and emotional interruption of teens due the pandemic, the mental health crises among adolescents seem to have jumped to record numbers.

PBS reports that Oregon is "ranked as the worst state for youth mental illness and access to care." But they're attempting to do something about it with a program that trains teenagers to answer crisis calls from other teens. They aren't alone though, as there's a master's level supervisor at the ready to jump in if the call requires a mental health professional.

The calls coming into the Oregon YouthLine can vary drastically, anywhere from relationship problems to family struggles, all the way to thoughts of self-harm and suicide. Teens manning the phones are provided with 60 hours of training and are taught to recognize when the call needs to be taken over by the adult supervisor.

Keep ReadingShow less
Family

Mom shares her brutal experience with 'hyperemesis gravidarum' and other moms can relate

Hyperemesis gravidarum is a severe case of morning sickness that can last up until the baby is born and might require medical attention.

@emilyboazman/TikTok

Hyperemesis gravidarum isn't as common as regular morning sickness, but it's much more severe.

Morning sickness is one of the most commonly known and most joked about pregnancy symptoms, second only to peculiar food cravings. While unpleasant, it can often be alleviated to a certain extent with plain foods, plenty of fluids, maybe some ginger—your typical nausea remedies. And usually, it clears up on its own by the 20-week mark. Usually.

But sometimes, it doesn’t. Sometimes moms experience stomach sickness and vomiting, right up until the baby is born, on a much more severe level.

Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), isn’t as widely talked about as regular morning sickness, but those who go through it are likely to never forget it. Persistent, extreme nausea and vomiting lead to other symptoms like dehydration, fainting, low blood pressure and even jaundice, to name a few.

Emily Boazman, a mom who had HG while pregnant with her third child, showed just how big of an impact it can make in a viral TikTok.

Keep ReadingShow less

The cast of TLC's "Sister Wives."

Dating is hard for just about anyone. But it gets harder as people age because the dating pool shrinks and older people are more selective. Plus, changes in dating trends, online etiquette and fashion can complicate things as well.

“Sister Wives” star Christine Brown is back in the dating pool after ending her “spiritual union” with polygamist Kody Brown and she needs a little help to get back in the swing of things. Christine and Kody were together for more than 25 years and she shared him with three other women, Janelle, Meri and Robyn.

Janelle and Meri have recently announced they’ve separated from Kody. Christine publicly admitted that things were over with Kody in November 2021.

Keep ReadingShow less