Las Vegas Sun

August 18, 2019

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Veterans find peace in refuge

I’m disappointed that the Air Force is asking Congress to expand its bomb testing and operations into the Desert National Wildlife Refuge. As a veteran who has served in the Army and Navy, I understand the importance of national security. But we fight to maintain our country’s lands safe and protected so that veterans have a place to come home to.

It’s no secret that service members have a hard time readjusting to civilian life. Since leaving the service almost a decade ago, it’s been important for me to get away from the bustle of the city. Being outdoors helps me reset and gives me peace of mind. Being somewhere quiet is also valuable. Having so many public lands nearby has helped me feel at home in Las Vegas.

It would be a shame if the Air Force’s expansion plans prevented warriors from being able to enjoy this beautiful, remote place where we can feel like ourselves again. The few wild places that remain deserve to stay wild, with any impacts on the environment kept to a minimum. If we bulldoze the land, we can’t take it back. There’s no restoring a refuge that’s been bombed and paved over.

The Desert National Wildlife Refuge is a refuge for a reason — not just for wildlife but for veterans as well. We ask Congress members to consider this as they review plans to expand the Air Force’s footprint in the refuge and potentially limit public access to the it.

The writer is a co-founder of Warrior Overland Adventures.