2018 USX Denali Expedition - Through the Fog


"I'm excited that USX is able to provide an elite team of Veterans with an opportunity to conduct adventurous research in such a beautiful yet austere environment in Alaska. The scientific research connected to all USX missions form a common goal for teams to achieve something larger than self. Denali is an extension of that tradition and I look forward to following the adventure!"

  -Harold Earls IV, Founder, USX

As our Veterans deploy to austere regions throughout the globe (including those at challenging altitudes), understanding the effects of decreased oxygen on the two divisions of the autonomic nervous system are imperative to troop readiness and recovery.  Gathering raw data in alpine environments is challenging and dangerous if not conducted by experienced mountaineers comfortable at extreme altitude. 

The 2018 USX Denali Expedition brings together a team of Veterans committed to using their talent as accomplished mountaineers to gather scientific data for the Veteran community. 

The mission of the 2018 USX Denali Expedition is to assist scientists in understanding how sympathetic and parasympathetic systems in the body change with acclimatization by using state-of-the-art EKG technology to harvest data from a summit expedition. The parasympathetic nervous system regulates the body’s unconscious activities while the sympathetic nervous system, better known as our ‘fight or flight’ response, can accelerate heart rate, constrict blood vessels, raise blood pressure, and numerous other stimulations vital to making us effective warriors. 

The data collected from our expedition will further the development of research in a critical area.

At USX, we believe that our research furthers science and has tangible impacts on our community. We also understand that Veterans are drawn to service for the intangible fulfillment it brings to their lives.  For the 2018 USX Denali Expedition, we have partnered with Team Red, White & Blue to help enrich the lives of our Veterans by connecting them to physical and social activities. 

We are committed to connecting this research initiative with a narrative that benefits other elements of the Veteran experience.

Each year countless Veterans struggle with the hardships inherent in being a service member in the US Military.  Epidemics of PTSD and Veteran suicide have remained the centerpiece of media attention, but lesser discussed issues of Veteran underemployment, homelessness, and residual, service-connected depression remain enduring issues many service members continually face.  Each of us has experienced tremendous pressure and the expectation to confront our challenges with quiet resolve and grit. Though our Veterans community benefited from the growing awareness of these issues, the public focus has been little more than 'problem admiration.'

The message of the 2018 USX Denali Expedition shifts the focus from the macro to the micro; from the aggregate to the individual.

This shift is a stark change in the mindset of our institution, which seeks to remove the “I” from the equation the first day we report for duty.  We will use the power of individual expedition member stories and introduce a framework for devising new methods for nurturing optimal mental health. Through our own personal experiences, we will demonstrate the cycle of struggle, release, and recovery to provide our community with the inspiration needed to tip the scales, becoming the catalyst for change.

During the expedition, our climbers will deliver personal narratives we believe will help change the outcome of many Veterans struggling with similar adversity.

In an age where so much emphasis is put towards “raising” or “generating" awareness for the same few Veteran-related issues, we must move past this phase towards a call to action and a break in the cycle.

We seek to shift the paradigm by continuing our track record of taking action to demonstrate to our community and nation that we can, and will, overcome immense challenges, both seen and unseen, to further science and continue the military tradition of camaraderie and belonging.

The theme for our Denali Expedition is “Through the Fog”. Throughout the expedition process, we will learn about each individual member of the team, paying close attention to the remarkable resilience each has faced through their own internal battles.

We will examine the steps each took to make powerful changes in their own lives and the resilience that led each to define themselves by their resolve to overcome adversity.

We’ll hear from members who have been faced with a crossroads in how to cope with service-related depression, loss, in both military and civilian environments. Our focus will be on their individual challenges: the steps each took to change or re-vector themselves with immersive, positive activities that filled the experience gap or built a bridge to connect to an optimal state of mental health. 

The expedition will be an exciting and challenging adventure, and we hope you will follow our journey!


-Team USX