Veterans Green Corps
A letter from Alex Villalta, Veterans Green Corps member:
My name is Alex Villalta. This past summer I was a crew member on the first ever Veterans Crew with the Montana Conservation Corps. For those vets who are considering joining this program, I hope my story helps with your decision.
I served in the Air Force from 2002 to 2007. When I got out, I moved back to Los Angeles and went to school. Once I finished in April, I felt that I needed to get out of LA and challenge myself with something out of the ordinary. After countless hours of looking and applying for jobs, I came across the MCC website. When I saw that they were having a veterans crew, I was attracted to the idea of being around people that had faced many of the same challenges that I faced while I was in.
When we all met up for the first time, it took a matter of minutes before we were all laughing and joking. Again, I felt like the fact that we all had, at least at some level, been through similar situations in the military created a type of camaraderie that I had not experienced since getting out.
The friendships continued to be built upon as the season progressed. Countless nights were spent talking about nothing in particular. We began to really rely on each other in a rather dangerous job. In all honesty, we became a family and the woods were our home. We ate together, cleaned-up together, set up and tore down camp together, and sweated together. And by the end of the season, we celebrated together.
Spending time doing project work in the Medicine Bow National Forest really helped me regain my focus. The time away from the big lights in the big city left me with a lot of time to determine what direction I wanted to go when I moved back to LA. It has really opened doors for me. I am currently working for another Non-Profit focused on conservation and will be spending January through April in the Angeles National Forest planting trees that had been lost by a tragic fire a few years ago.
For those veterans who are considering joining the MCC, it is going to be tough, but tough is what we are good at. There are going to be times when you have to be the mission first, but that is something we all know too well.