Emily Henkel vividly remembers the first time her late fiancé, Alexander Lofgren, found peace in the outdoors. They had gone camping at one of her favorite spots in Prescott, Arizona. Lying in a hammock, staring up at the sky amid ponderosa pines, she spotted a tear rolling down his cheek.
“I was like, ‘Are you all right?… Is something wrong?’ ” she recalled. It was early in their relationship, and they were still learning about each other. “He expressed that this was just the most at peace he had been in a really long time.”
Lofgren served four years in the Army and was deployed to Afghanistan as a combat engineer before being honorably medically discharged. Henkel said he was already on a healing journey when they met years later, but two things fueled him further: experiencing nature and helping fellow veterans as a congressional aide for Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz.