After their long careers dedicated to protecting our freedom, these veterans are still serving their country, just in a different way.
While United States Department of Veterans Affairs struggles to provide our heroes with the help they need, Mother Nature continues to welcome them with open arms.
The idea of countering post-traumatic stress disorder with outdoor activities isn't groundbreaking, as they're are many wonderful hunting and fishing programs for veterans across the country. However, this one's a little different.
Established in 2008, The Swamp Apes has provided hundreds of U.S. veterans with the opportunity to utilize their military training for a different purpose: catching and removing Burmese pythons from the Florida Everglades.
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The beauty of a program like this is that it actually knocks out two birds with one stone. Not only do military veterans have an ability to cope with their PTSD, but they're effectively helping with a major environmental catastrophe.
Tom Rahill first started The Swamp Apes as a way to deal with some personal emotional turmoil, but quickly realized the double-sided benefits to this practice.
Burmese pythons have been decimating mammal populations throughout the Everglades National Park for years now. And, with population numbers now well over 100,000, what started as an invasive-species threat is now widely recognized as a complete disaster.
While the spread of pythons is probably irreversible, it is perhaps manageable to some degree, so long as python hunters continue to remove the snakes. So, having veterans put their skills toward a very serious issue that demands urgent attention doesn't only help them, but also one of our most celebrated domestic ecosystems.
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