2022 VetsWork: Kyle O’Brien

by | VW 2022

My name Is Kyle O’Brien and I was born in Long Island, New York. I grew up playing street hockey, riding my bike at the local BMX park, and going on fishing trips with my father. However, New York would only be home for so long as we moved down to North Carolina in the Winter of 2008.

Upon moving down to the South, I made some friends that would show me the beauty of the great outdoors. Coming from a place where we only had one park within biking distance to a state where I could walk to any of the 3 beautiful and lively parks around our neighborhood, it was wonderful. After getting my license the constant weekend trips to the mountains and the beach would begin to shape the way I would continue to live my life. Throughout high school, I always tried to convince my friends to spend a weekend camping on the beach, hiking in the mountains, or embark on some other grand adventure. I joined the Marines the summer after I graduated from high school and said farewell to my friends, family, and loved ones before beginning what would become one of the greatest journeys in my life.

I learned quite a lot about myself and life during those 4 years; I lost friends along the way, but I also made friends that will be in my life till the very end and through my experiences, learned how valuable the healing effects of nature can be. After leaving the marines I spent 6 months on the road with one of my best friends where we circumnavigated the entire United States, visiting the friends we made from our time in the Marines. That being said, what mattered most to me about this trip was being able to explore and camp in so many different parts of this beautiful nation we worked so hard to serve.

In the months following my return from this trip I took up a few different jobs, but none of them truly felt like something I could see myself doing in the long term; I spent a year working in HVAC full time before some significant family issues and COVID had me go from several different part-time jobs as I tried to figure out what was best for me in both an emotional and professional sense. This is why I felt quite lucky to have stumbled upon an opportunity that seemed too good to be true: the Mt. Adams institute. After applying and doing some research it seemed like the perfect fit for me; I was planning on going back to school anyway, specifically aiming for a degree that would land me in the forestry industry. What’s more, I know this hands-on experience will far surpass what I would gain from a traditional education setting. Everyone I have had the pleasure of interacting with thus far has been nothing but supportive, kind, and welcoming. I look forward to beginning what I’m sure will be yet another journey of a lifetime, and what I believe will springboard me into my future career in the forestry industry. It’s going to be cold, wet, and uncomfortable at times but I welcome the challenge, and look forward to the experience.