LIFE

Homeless Army Veteran Struggles Returning Home, Then Creates ‘Adventure Therapy’ With His Pets

by Gwendolyn Plummer
Gwen is a writer, reader, hockey fan, concert goer, and lunchtime enthusiast.

Many military veterans struggle when returning to civilian life. Culture shock and trauma from war can make it very hard for them to seamlessly return to the life they left.

Army veteran Stephen Simmons struggled when he returned from Iraq in 2008. He has been seeing a therapist at the Veteran Center, who explained to him why it can be so hard for veterans to adjust.

He explains that leaving a combat zone is difficult because “you’ve got all this adrenaline in your system and you’re used to this really intense lifestyle… it just doesn’t turn off when you get back here.”

Stephen realized that he felt better when he pursued adventure — things like hiking and climbing made him feel less depressed and, suddenly, he realized, “I really cared what happened to me a lot more than I thought that I did.”

With this knowledge, Stephen created his own form of therapy, which he calls “Adventure Therapy.” He brings along his service dog, Puppi, and his cat named Burma. Together, the three hike, explore, and find adventure to make them feel alive.

Stephen says “adventure therapy has given me immense hope for the future, and a newfound determination to overcome my situation.”

Once depressed and hopeless, Stephen has found light and excitement at the peaks of mountains with his best friends by his side.

Check out the video below to meet Stephen and his sweet furry companions, and please SHARE this video on Facebook!

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