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American Trails presented "Trails for Heroes: Healing our Military Veterans" on March 24, 2016 as a part of the American Trails "Advancing Trails Webinar Series"




"Trails for Heroes: Healing our Military Veterans"

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American Trails presented this Webinar on March 24, 2016. Trails are helping injured service members recover from both the physical and unseen wounds of war.

This webinar is presented by:


(An extension of their presentation at the Closing Luncheon at the 2015 International Trails Symposium this past May in Portland, Oregon.)


Read more and learn about the presenters...


register now click here


WEBINAR PRICES: American Trails Members only pay $35 and Nonmembers pay $55. These prices are the same for our future webinars as well as our past webinars in which you can access recordings to. To receive the member discount, be sure and select “YES” for this question and the $20 will automatically be deducted from your total. If you are a new or renewing member, you can add a membership to your order at the same time. View our membership levels and benefits.



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Picture of Aaron Heliker presenting at the 2015 International Trails Symposium

Aaron Heliker and Debbi Fisher (foreground) present at the 2015 International

Trails Symposium closing luncheon; along with Jan Hancock, Brian Scholl,

and Sirena Dufault (L-R) in background


View video of the trailer for the documentary "Riding My Way Back" (mp4 9.7 mb)

Hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding trail therapy programs for our nation’s wounded veterans are proving to be among the most successful methods of helping our injured service members overcome the ravages of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). America’s trails are providing some of the best healing, challenging, and confidence-building environments to help America’s military service heroes.

A national panel of hiking, mountain biking, and equestrian trail program leaders share their military veteran on-the-trails programs and success stories. Trails are helping many war-injured service veterans become stronger in mind, body, and spirit. Become a part of this national effort to provide trail experiences to help injured service members recover from both physical and unseen wounds of war in your own community, organization, or land management agency.

You can purchase the 30-minute full documentary film "Riding My Way Back" for $20.00 online:


View the presentation from the 2015 International Trails Symposium... (pdf 3.2 mb)



Jan Hancock


Jan Hancock is a member of the American Trails Board of Directors and she lives in Phoenix, Arizona. Jan is a former university instructor and has a Master’s Degree in Design and Community Education. Jan has been a presenter at numerous national and regional trails conferences over the past 15 years, and she is serving as the moderator for this panel discussion today. Jan is the principal of her Photo of byciclist and joggersequestrian design consulting firm, Hancock Resources LLC, and she has designed trail, trailhead, campground, and equestrian facilities projects in more than 20 states nationwide over the past 10 years. She was a founder of the Arizona Trail Association and serves on boards for numerous other nonprofit organizations.



Sirena Dufault

Sirena Dufault is the director of the Arizona National Scenic Trail Gateway Community Program. Sirena developed a multi-faceted approach to facilitate a relationship between trail users and the 33 towns along the trail while promoting area tourism to stimulate local economies. She became involved with the Arizona Trail Association in 2007, helping to build many miles of trail near Tucson, and hiked the 817-mile Arizona Trail in 2008-2009. In 2014, she completed the Arizona Trail Trek, a thru-hike fundraiser to promote the trail and highligLogoht the GatewayLogo Communities with multiple events and public hikes and backpacking trips. Sirena came to Arizona from Chicago for her Bachelors Degree in Anthropology and Classics from the University of Arizona and has enjoyed exploring Arizona through hiking, backpacking, rafting, canyoneering, and her blog Sirena's Wanderings. Sirena just completed leading a 3-month Warrior Hike on the Arizona National Scenic Trail on May 16, 2015. Email:




Joe Coddington

Joe Coddington proudly served as a US Marine from 1990-1995. As an avid cyclist before and while serving, Joe was a USMC National Cycling Champion and continued cycling at the professional level until 2008. In 2004, he founded a youth cycling nonprofit that still operates today in his hometown, Asheville, NC. Upon retiring from competitive cycling, he worked for the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team. Now a resident of Camarillo, Ride 2 Recovery LogoCa., Joe works with Ride 2 Recovery to bring his unique life experience to improve the Veteran experience on the rides and outreach to involve more communities. When asked about R2R he will tell you, “I have done a lot with bicycles. I have felt the thrill of winning and the disappointment of losing. I have seen the impact that cycling has on kids and enjoyed it all. But watching what happens to these men and women that served when R2R gets them on a bike and they rediscover life, I have no words except that this is what bikes were meant to do.” Email:



Debbi Fisher

Debbi Fisher is currently the Training Director for Hope for Heroes Equine Therapy Consulting, who helps people all over the world start programs for our Veterans with Equine Therapy. She was previously a certified instructor for the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship, a nonprofit organization that has more than 800 accredited centers worldwide with 8,000 horses that provide equine-assisted activities and therapies. As a military widow, Debbi has founded the largest horse therapy program in America servingveterans. She is a leader in the PATH International “Equine Services for Heroes” Committee and she travels nationwide providing training to other PATH InteHope for Heroes logornational instructors at their centers. Debbi lived, worked and trained for PATH personnel in the northwest for many years, including Bend, Oregon and Rainier, Washington. Her special area of expertise is working with military veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder traumatic brain injuries. The combination of developing trust and riding skills with horses, and undertaking trail riding challenges have helped heal military veterans since the program began in 2010. Debbi shares her enthusiasm for a research study underway at Baylor University in Dallas, Texas, noting, “This study will demonstrate the true effectiveness and dramatic healing success of therapeutic horsemanship in treating PTSD with our nation’s military veterans.” Email:



Aaron heliker

Aaron Heliker enlisted in the United States Air Force at 19 years of age, and after his training was completed, he had multiple deployments stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan. His health was compromised by traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and he became unable to continue his military service. Aaron was prescribed 42 daily medications, and he became suicidal. Feeling desperate and isolated, Aaron was introduced to the nonprofit PATH International Equine Services for Heroes program by Debbi Fisher. She paired Aaron with a horse named Fred, and through caring for Fred and building mutual trust, Aaron began the difficult process of reconnecting to the world around him and healing the invisible wounds of war that nearly defeated him. Aaron, now successfully regaining his health, lives in Portland, Oregon and has become a trainer, working directly with military veterans in the PATH International Equine Services for Heroes program, and he is helping train PATH International instructors offering these programs at their centers. Aaron asks the trails community, “Let’s do all we can to preserve and provide access to trails, because trails bring unique, effective opportunities for healing to our nation’s military veterans.” Email:




More Resources


American Trails Homepage

American Trails “Resources & Library” webpage

Hancock Resources LLC

Arizona Trail Association

Warrior Expeditions

Ride 2 Recovery

Hope for Heroes Equine Therapy Consulting

VIDEO: Veterans riding wilderness trails

Riding My Way Back – A Story about a Veteran, a Horse, and Hope

Wheel'in 4 Warriors

4 Wheel to Heal

Oregon Adaptive Sports

Other recreation opportunities for wounded warriors, veterans, and their families


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