Another war, another tragedy |

Another war, another tragedy

I am filled with sorrow that the grim lessons of history are again disregarded at the high price of war in Ukraine and that Putin’s blatant act of aggression is recklessly sacrificing lives and bringing moral injury to combatants on both side of the conflict.

Having worked with veterans through the locally based Huts For Vets wilderness healing program I founded with local veterans 10 years ago, I am now teaming up with mental health workers in Ukraine through the U.S. Forest Service and Department of State to bring their traumatized veterans the same kind of healing opportunities in nature.

Two Ukraine veterans on the team – Vasyli and Olexi – are good men who guide their fellow veterans into the high peaks of the Carpathian Mountains for respite and solace. Vasyli emailed on the day war broke out, saying that our progress will be interrupted because he and Olexi are headed back to the front lines to fight and, if necessary, die for their country. With the war now engaged, the nature healing program we are creating becomes more important than ever.

It is my hope that one day soldiers on the aggressor side of a conflict will say, “Enough! Stop! We refuse to follow the orders of morally corrupt leaders.” Until that day, the carnage continues. To quote Kurt Vonnegut in Slaughterhouse-Five: “And so it goes…”

Paul Andersen

Founder and executive director, Huts For Vets