The News Virginian
August 25, 2018

By REBECCA J. BARNABI | (540) 932-3568

WAYNESBORO — Capt. Sean Gobin was in the U.S. Marines until 2012. After two deployments to Iraq and one to Afghanistan, Gobin said he hiked all 2,185 miles of the Appalachian Trail to get the troubling experiences he had on the battlefield out of his system.

“And it ended up being an incredibly therapeutic and cathartic experience,” Gobin, who lives in Waynesboro, said.

The following year, Gobin founded Warrior Expeditions, a nonprofit with a mission to get struggling war veterans in touch with the great outdoors.

Now Gobin’s nonprofit organization has received a $20,000 grant from the Disabled Veterans National Foundation.

According to Gobin, combat veteran Earl Shaffer told a friend in 1948 he was going to “walk off the war,” and four months later he was the first person to hike the entire Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine.

More than 2.5 million veterans have returned home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001, and the Department of Veteran Affairs estimates more than 20 percent suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

“We’re incredibly thankful for the very generous donation, and it’s really going to impact the lives of veterans who are going to participate in our program next year,” Gobin said.

The nonprofit makes it possible for veterans to hike 10 trails in 35 states. Gobin said all of the trails are long distance and can take three to six months to complete.

The program costs $5,000 per veteran for a six-month trail trip.

“DVNF is proud to support Warrior Expeditions as they continue to make a positive impact in veterans lives by delivering outdoor therapy programs,” Joseph VanFonda, a retired Marine and CEO of the Disabled Veterans National Foundation, said in a press release. “We would like to congratulate and thank them for their commitment to serving the men and women who served in defense of our country.”

Gobin said that veterans who are struggling with civilian life and enjoy the great outdoors are encouraged to go to and sign up.