Daniel Kester

Dan Kester in the rain on a raft in the Grand Canyon

After serving 20 years in the U.S. Air Force, transitioning from military to civilian life has been extremely challenging, especially with severe post-traumatic stress disorder, a permanent battle scar from my deployment to Iraq and my missions in Afghanistan.

Seeking support, I applied for and was chosen to participate in last year’s Raytheon-No Barriers Grand Canyon Veteran Wilderness Expedition along with nine other veterans all with challenges–some were visible and others were not. The expedition marked the first time I had been with other veterans like myself, and this experience changed my life. No, actually, it saved my life, as I had been suffering with thoughts of suicide. Time spent in the canyon and on the river made me realize I have what it takes to overcome my personal challenges.

Even though the expedition is over, No Barriers continues to support veterans in the healing process. While recently attending the No Barriers Summit, an annual gathering that includes Warriors alumni, my wife and I had a chance to meet and thank a few of the program sponsors and to converse with fellow veterans. Spending time with me at this event allowed her to gain a new appreciation for my struggles with PTSD, which was powerful for both of us.

Because of my No Barriers experience, I am more confident today and ready to live a full life. Thanks from the bottom of my heart to all who gave me this second chance.

Warriors at camp in the 2015 Grand Canyon Veteran Wilderness Expedition