Breaking Barriers and Building Strength

Published on Wednesday, January 31, 2024 in Community

On Sept. 5, 2023, Tom Becker flew into Denver, Colorado. A few days later, he and his companions were taking in the view from atop nearby mountain summit Eagles Nest, having forged a bond that would last a lifetime.

No Barriers helps Michigan veterans overcome mental and physical obstacles through a five-day expedition in Colorado. Becker first heard about the program from a few No Barriers alumni he was teaching at the Sam Beauford Woodworking Institute in Adrian, Michigan. He said deciding to sign up was a pivotal moment for him.

“It’s the best thing I’ve ever done,” Becker said.

After flying in, veterans are transported from the airport to “base camp” about an hour away.

“Base camp is incredible,” Becker said. “The tents are extremely comfortable. Almost houses.”

After meeting veterans from all service branches and all regions of the country, participants fill their next days with activities like a challenge course, hikes, and rock climbing. Becker said the final day, a hike up to Lake Agnes, was especially important.

“Along the way, you talk about what’s bothering you, what’s in your past that you want to get rid of,” he said. “Up at Lake Agnes, you have a rock that represents what you want to get rid of, and you throw it away into the lake.”

Becker said the friends he made became more like family members, talking as a group every night on Facebook after the trip was over thanks to their shared life experiences.

“You lose all anger and frustration, because you’re with a group who understands you and where you came from,” he said.

The expedition pushed Becker beyond what he thought he was capable of. By the end of the trip, he had a new outlook on life and on himself.

“It makes you realize your physical limitations aren’t actual limitations if you don’t allow them to be,” he said.

Becker wanted to thank everyone at No Barriers for the program, and hopes to return in 2024, this time as a coach. He had one piece of advice for anyone considering going.

“It’s more fun than you can ever imagine,” he said. “Just go for it.”

If you are a disabled veteran, or you know of a disabled veteran in our community who would like to participate in the No Barriers program, future Country Lines issues for more information.