WATERTOWN -- Thomas G. Bauschke of Watertown, a Purple Heart recipient and former combat medic who served two tours with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team in Afghanistan, will begin his quest this Saturday to climb the 22,970-foot summit of Mount Aconcagua, located in west central Argentina, to raise funds for the Wounded Warrior Project.

The Wounded Warrior Project is a nonprofit organization that aids severely wounded service members and their Families through their transition from active duty to civilian life.

The programs support physical and mental wellness, education and training, employment, mentoring and alumni programs.

Bauschke, who is paying all of his expenses for the trip, is participating in his fourth fundraising venture for the Wounded Warrior Project.

He has raised more than $13,000 from his three previous events. All of the proceeds from this fund-raiser will go entirely to the WWP; Bauschke will receive no compensation for his efforts.

Bauschke said he believes that the monetary contributions are for a worthy cause, but he also wants to increase awareness of the physical and mental scars that our Soldiers have had to endure.

He said he knows the nation will be relieved when all of the Soldiers finally return home safely to their Families after the conflict. However, he wants everyone to know that it is not the end of the obstacles and challenges that await wounded warriors.

"I don't want people to forget about the wounded," Bauschke said. "Some of them will be dealing with their wounds for the rest of their lives."

He continued discussing the potential long-term battles for Soldiers diagnosed with post traum- atic stress disorder, and their need for camaraderie, friendship and a sense of belonging.

Bauschke said he believes that through sports activities, training and other events that bring these Soldiers together, the Wounded Warrior Project hits the mark.

"All these Soldiers are pulling together and doing things that they never thought they could do anymore," he said.

Bauschke estimates the hike up Mount Aconcagua will take approximately 15 days, which includes an additional two days in the event of bad weather.

Argentina is located in the Southern Hemisphere, meaning it is nearing its summer season. That means he will be in shorts and a T-shirt as he begins his journey, but he will quickly have to adjust to the falling temperature and button up as he gets farther along in his climb to the top of Mount Acon-cagua, more than four miles above sea level.

The hike is considered a nontechnical climb, which means there will be simple hiking, with occasional treading over rocks or streams. But it is not without any dangers. Bauschke said he believes that possible falls, frostbite and altitude sickness are some of the biggest challenges for him this time around.

However, he will be accompanied by people who know the lay of the land and are experienced in making the climb to the summit. They will be with him every step of the way in his quest to help America's wounded warriors.

Individuals who would like to sponsor Bauschke may make donations either in person or by mail to Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5218, 113 E. Dexter St., Black River, N.Y. 13602.

For more information about how the Wounded Warrior Project continues to help service members, visit www.woundedwarriorproject.org.

Page last updated Thu November 29th, 2012 at 00:00