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ATV's helping vets fight depression and PTSD

By Lou Hillman, lhillman@wkbt.com
Published On: Dec 03 2012 08:15:05 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 03 2012 10:59:13 PM CST
GALESVILLE, Wis. -

Finding peace of mind is a daily battle for many veterans who have seen combat.

"Even to this day, I struggle with it. I don't think you'll ever get over something like that," said Nathan Harter, who served in the Army National Guard for 12 years.

Harter, however, has found some solace riding his ATV around outside.

The Iraq War veteran from Trempealeau has been out of the military since 2010 but still struggles with bouts of depression.

"It goes in stages," he said.

Harter has found that letting loose outside helps him clear his mind, let go of some of the stress, and feel happy again. That's why the 31-year-old is forming a non-profit organization to give other veterans that same outdoor outlet.

It's called ATV for VETS.

Click here to visit the organization's Facebook page.

The goal is to give veterans a chance to ride 4-wheelers for free and connect with those facing the same internal struggles.

"Veterans usually rely on each other more then they really rely on other people and that's kind of the focus of what we want here. We want them to have some fun but also want them to realize there are people out there that have been through what they've been through and there are people out there willing to help them," said Harter.

"Out here you just listen. You can hear the wind brushing through the trees. It's calming and relaxing in a lot of ways," said Scott Frazier, a veteran from Onalaska who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.

Frazier is another area veteran who has turned to the outdoors to help with his recovery.

"I was placed on suicide watch when I was in the military. (I) still have those kind of thoughts. You know, they don't just go away," said Frazier.

The 32-year-old runs his own organization called Veteran's Outdoor World and has been helping Harter get his non-profit off the ground.

Both men are finding that their desire to help others is helping them overcome their own struggles.

"Just speaking to people about PTSD helps (with my) PTSD. (It) makes you feel a little bit better and makes you feel a little less alone in the world," said Frazier.

Nate Harter has already set out on his own path to recovery. Now, it's time to help others get in the driver seat to find their path.

"I have to do this. It's not: can I do this? I have to do it," said Harter.

ATV for VETS is holding a spaghetti dinner on Saturday, December 8. It's being held at the Trempealeau VFW, 24423 3rd Street. The fundraiser runs from 5 - 8 p.m. and is being catered by Fazoli's.

Tickets cost $10 at the door. You can also purchase them ahead of time for $8.50. The tickets are available at the Fazoli's in Onalaska as well as the following locations in Trempealeau: Mrs. Sippis, Hungry Point, and Vance Small Engine Repair.

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