Veterans hiking Appalachian Trail stop in Roanoke

Published: May. 21, 2016 at 10:38 PM EDT
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About a dozen veterans hiking the Appalachian Trail made a stop in Roanoke.

The warm meal inside VFW Post 1264 is a more than welcome sight for the nine Appalachian Trail hikers. It's a path Barbara Sim couldn't have imagined.

Barbara Sim, Veteran Hiking Appalachian Trail, said, "Nothing's really clicked with me so I thought this might be a good avenue to take."

She is dealing with PTSD after serving four years in the Marines. Traditional treatment wasn't working, so she took a different approach.

"I didn't even know what the AT was until I looked up Warrior Hike,” she said. “I was like, oh there's a trail that goes over 2,000 miles, that sounds fun."

Andrew Clark, Veteran Hiking Appalachian Trail, said, "There's has to be something in therapy in nature for veterans because it's helping me out."

Andrew Clark is an Air Force veteran who served four tours in Iraq. The hike is helping him figure out life after the military.

"The woods is such a big place and you feel so small and you're inside your head and I think you're able to process a lot of things when you're by yourself,” said Clark.

Sim said, "Oh, you're in another world. It's a whole other world."

There, they can detach from reality for a few months. Stops like this bring them the comforts they don't often find.

Roger Ward, Commander-Elect VFW Post 1264, said, "They need a good hot meal. It's very seldom they get off the trail."

The group is only a third of the way through. They'll be hiking all summer to reach the northern end of the trail and hopefully some healing.

Sim said, "It's kind of like helping me move forward from what's been bogging me down."

The VFW put them up in a hotel Saturday night. Then most of them will continue their journey on Sunday.