More than a decade after returning home from Iraq, Kyle Miller struggles almost daily with post-traumatic stress disorder. As part of the U.S. Army’s 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, he participated in the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003 and says that he returned home from combat a changed person.
He says, “I came pretty close to dying in Iraq, and I felt alone when I got back.” He has worked at Wells Fargo as a loan servicing specialist in Billings, Montana, for 10 years. “In my civilian life, I don’t know a lot of people who have gone through what I have, and it’s hard to connect. I’m still learning how to cope.”
Now, as a member of the 2015 Warriors to Summits team, he’s found the camaraderie that he misses from his Army days — as well as people who “just get it,” he says.
The team, a group of wounded military veterans, has spent the spring and summer training for their 13,804-foot journey to the top of Gannett Peak in Wyoming, which they plan to summit on Sept. 11, 2015. The veterans have disabilities ranging from prosthetic limbs to traumatic brain injury to PTSD.
Warriors to Summits is a program of No Barriers USA, a nonprofit working to empower people facing adversity through transformative experiences. The program, sponsored by Wells Fargo for the second year, uses mountains as a metaphor to help wounded veterans overcome barriers in their personal lives.
“It took me a long time to seek out help,” says Kyle, a father of two. “I hope that Warriors to Summits helps me gain self-confidence, move past the things I went through in Iraq, and show my kids that they can do things they didn’t think were possible.” Kyle says his kids, ages 7 and 8, have cheered him on as he prepares at home for the grueling climb.
Through three training climbs, the team has prepared physically and emotionally for the journey they hope will be the catalyst for change in their civilian lives.
Wells Fargo first sponsored the program in 2014 year in support of the Mission: Mt. Whitney expedition, and Kyle learned about the program then through his work at Wells Fargo.
He says, “I’ve been to the Veterans Affairs hospital and talked with counselors, but I never knew that programs like this existed for veterans. It’s cool to know that the company I work for provides this kind of support to veterans and sees it as a priority.”
Kyle says training for the climb has motivated him to meet veterans who live near him and to get involved in local support groups. He plans to share the lessons he’s learned and work with other veterans to help them overcome their own barriers.