My Story: Marching towards the South Pole
Posted by Nick Colgin on November 16
Four years ago this month, I experienced my first post-military Veterans Day. I was only a few months removed from Afghanistan, where I’d served as a medic with the 82d Airborne for 15 months. I was still suffering severe symptoms of a TBI experienced from the blast of an RPG off the side of my Humvee.
I was unable to spell my name, was having difficulty speaking and was basically sidelined to my couch. It was rough. That Veterans Day was bittersweet and left me in tears. In that moment I wasn’t the paratrooper that under fire had saved the life of a French soldier who had been shot in the head or the medic that helped rescue 42 Afghan locals from a flooding river. I was just a broken shell of that guy.
Veterans Day 2012 is a different story though. I am no longer a survivor, but a climber in every sense. I just marched with IAVA in my second NYC Veterans Day Parade, volunteered through IAVA's Operation Sandy Response to help provide disaster relief to those impacted by the hurricane and attended IAVA’s Sixth Annual Heroes Gala where over $1 million was raised to provide meaningful services to our community.
But most exciting of all for me is that I’m capping off this monumental week of momentum with a trip to Fort Carson where I’ll be trying out to represent the US in a race to the South Pole versus England and the Commonwealth (Australia, Canada and New Zealand).
I received the invitation from Soldiers To Summits (STS), along with 15 other Iraq and Afghanistan vets from across the nation, including some still on Active Duty. I know it’s going to be tough, but I’m optimistic and I feel ready.
After this weekend, they will select six of us to attend cold weather training in Iceland next March. After that, four finalists will be selected. And if all goes well, at the end of the next year I'll be walking 200 miles in -50 degree temperatures, with 50 mph winds, pulling a 150lb sled as I race against our allies. But that sounds pretty perfect.
Wish me luck!
Nick Colgin is an Afghanistan veteran and staffer at IAVA's NYC HQ.
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