Team O’Halleran lends a hand in AZ forest maintenance

Gila Herald (September 27, 2022)

This month, staff from the office of Congressman Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01) joined a volunteer forest conservation effort with Arizona Trail Association’s Veteran Engagement & Trail Stewardship (VETS), a program intended to give veterans the opportunity to practice conservation on Arizona’s public lands while building healthy, service-focused bonds within the veteran community.

Derek Duba, a Wounded Warrior Fellow in O’Halleran’s office, joined fellow veterans in collaboration with the US Forest Service for a three-night camping trip on the Kaibab Plateau north of the Grand Canyon, during which the group worked to clean up, maintain, and re-route existing passages along Arizona’s Scenic Trail.

“Arizona is home to over 500,000 veterans and some of the most beautiful outdoor spaces in the country,” said Rep. O’Halleran. “Since coming to Congress, two of my top priorities have been ensuring support for those who have served and the preservation of our treasured public lands for generations to come. I’m proud to have such dedicated, compassionate staff giving their time to care for our beloved trails and forests.”

“There are few things more rewarding than a hard day’s work toward a great cause. I am proud to contribute to the work these volunteers and professional stewards are doing to promote health and camaraderie among Arizona’s veterans at a time of dire need,” said Derek Duba, Wounded Warrior Fellow for Rep. O’Halleran. “These efforts perfectly parallel our office’s focus on safeguarding and strengthening two of our most valuable resources: our public lands and our public servants.”

“Now more than ever, we should be investing in nature-based therapies in addition to traditional medicine to a whole-health approach for our veteran communities,” said Michael “Chappy” Chappell, Veteran Outreach Coordinator, VETS Program, Arizona Trail Association. “This is the exact reason why the military continues to provide resources for the morale, welfare, and recreation for our troops who have served and continue to serve our country. Access to our public lands should be treated no differently than any other means of recreation, and by virtue, allow time for war-tired servicemen and women to pause, reconnect, and decompress in our country’s vast network of trails.”

To read the article online, click here.