StandWatch took a group of college students on a hike over Veterans Day weekend. They needed to do a service project and wanted to raise money for us. I agreed, and by most standards it was a success. We arrived safely at the trailhead in North Carolina after five and a half hours on the road, spent 17 hours in the woods, climbed to a 6000 foot ridge line in the middle of the night, descended down a fairly treacherous rock filled trail, and came home without incident. It took about thirty-four hours in total. The students even managed to raise $500 for the cause.
After we came back, one of them, Darrell McBeath, asked me how he should describe the event. Without even really thinking about it, I gave him our standard mission statement about fundraising to help provide veterans with the healthcare they were promised. The truth is though, that response didn’t explain the real reason why we helped these young men. It was much more selfish than that.
The truth is the problem we are trying to tackle is massive. At times, it seems overwhelming. It’s at those times that I often look for little successes, some of them not even directly related to our mission. So when I heard that college students wanted to do something for veterans on Veterans Day weekend, I was in. Did we raise money for StandWatch? Of course, but in the process, we confirmed that, at least for some young people, there is still value in working hard and suffering for others. Being part of that helps us stay motivated and hopeful. That’s the real reason we did this hike.
So, if you happen to be walking around the campus of Marshall University and run into Brandon Johnson, Nathan Anderson, Darrell McBeath, or Alex Northup, thank them for us. They gave us more than a donation. They gave us satisfaction in knowing that young people still believe in America.