A Country Worth Protecting is Worth Preservingclose
Benjamin Haberthur returned after serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. Since then he has been awarded a Combat Action Ribbon, two Marine Corps Reserve Medals, and a Presidential Unit Citation (among other honors), but his most rewarding achievement has been helping local Chicago veterans who are fighting an internal battle with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Ben, who has a B.S. in Environmental Science from California State University, Monterey Bay, saw that his personal experience with nature and conservationism could become a broader experience shared by fellow vets who may be struggling with symptoms of PTSD.
“I returned to school, anxious to get on with my life, and I discovered, while exploring the coastal areas of California, nature provided a peaceful and calming alternative to the stresses of my former military life.”
So, with the simple motto “a country worth protecting is worth preserving,” and the support of a $10,000 grant from the National Audubon Society and Toyota Ben was able to create Veterans Conservation Corps of Chicagoland. Ben and his team utilize their common skills from the Marines and Army to rejuvenating parks that have been overrun by invasive weeds and hemi-marsh conditions.
Ben continues his efforts today by canvassing the areas around Chicago, talking to Veterans of Foreign Wars, trying to spread the word in an effort to persuade veterans to join his efforts. He thinks some veterans' organizations that have served previous generations aren't able to attract the younger men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. “My target is younger vets," Haberthur said. "I think they relate differently than in years past.”
Helping to support the path to recovery through nature and service for those who have already protected and preserved America is a fight that all Americans can support.