DENVER -- Breckenridge is once again honoring our veterans and active duty military with the annual Wounded Heroes Family Ski Week.
This year, about a dozen active duty and military veterans and their families are participating. The event is made possible by donations from many individuals, along with the support of Breckenridge Grand Vacations, the Grand Timber Lodge and Southwest Airlines, which provides free flights to Denver for all the families.
Many of the veterans have never skied before. Staff members with the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center provide their services on the mountain for ski instruction.
"This is an amazing program," said Hope Giger, an Air Force combat medic veteran. "This is about life on the other side of war."
It’s their shared sacrifice that makes this place so comfortable. Gearing up to go skiing is a distraction from the fog of war.
"It's incredibly special," said Pranava Moody, an Air Force veteran.
The slopes provide relief and a release.
“It feels really good,” Moody said. “It feels really, really good.”
This is a safe space.
“The reason I'm outgoing here is because I’m with my veterans. I feel safe here. Otherwise, I isolate myself at home,” Giger said.
Not all of their injuries can be seen.
“We look the same, but we don't react the same,” Giger said. She suffers from both a TBI, traumatic brain injury, and PTSD.
Moody also suffers from PTSD.
“I changed involuntarily, then I had to become accustomed to this new person,” Moody said.
“The military teaches you how to go to war, but it doesn't teach you how to come back from war. Programs like this teach us how to come back,” Giger said.
"It shows you that you're not alone. Other people go through the exact same thing. They have the exact same struggles," Moody said. “It’s a wonderful program.”
Moody and her husband, Scott – also a veteran, are a mentor family at the event this week. This is their second year in a row.
The families will spend an entire week in Breckenridge.