The Arizona Trail Association has a new VETS program ( Veteran Engagement & Trail Stewardship ) that provides guidance, leadership, and opportunities for veterans to connect with other service members in a naturally therapeutic setting while they continue their contributions to our country.

The crews are composed entirely of veterans, who organize and execute one- and two-day maintenance events, as well as five-day intensive events. 

This program is designed as a long term opportunity for veterans to engage with one another and civilians in activities that put many of their special talents to work in peaceful pursuits, while also honoring their military service. 

This Veterans Day, VETS will be coming to the Mountain Empire to help complete the AZT reroute in the Santa Rita’s in a work event Nov. 11-17. Look for more information about this in the next issue of PRT, or at

The program is led by Michael “Chappy “ Chappell. Chappy served in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004. Upon returning home, he looked for activities immersed in the healing energies of nature, which lead him to NOLS (National Outdoor Leadrship School) where he studied outdoor education and conservation. 

He became an Outreach Specialist, and Outdoor School Instructor, working with various local nonprofits teaching classes. 

This Tucson native has volunteered with Southern Arizona Rescue Association, Arizona Conservation Corps, Beads of Courage, and Treehouse. All these endeavors increased his skill set which is tailor made for his position as Veteran Outreach Coordinator with the ATA. 

He is focused on creating and administering veteran specific programs to help establish meaningful experiences and connections for folks that have served our country in the military, and continue to serve working on the Arizona National Scenic trail.