Last Best Leave

The work of Big Sky Bravery.

Although most of America’s regular troops have pulled out of the Middle East, thousands of special-operations soldiers remain—and after multiple deployments, returning stateside takes adjustment. “Our desire is to help with this transition,” explains Josh McCain, co-founder of Big Sky Bravery, a new nonprofit supporting active-duty, spec-ops soldiers with all-expense-paid outdoor experiences in Montana. “They come home to a quieter life after months of intense, life-threatening combat missions,” says McCain. “It’s hard to make such a dramatic shift, and this is where Big Sky Bravery kicks in.”

With personal ties to the special-operations community, including Delta Force operators and Army Rangers, McCain saw a growing, unmet need—and decided to do something about it. He knew that the mountains of Montana offered endless adventure, and could show these adrenaline-fueled warriors how to find excitement and enjoy life at home, instead of feeling bored and yearning to get back in the action. With that epiphany, Big Sky Bravery was born—McCain quit his job and set up shop in Bozeman.

“I just knew it had to be done,” McCain says. “And I knew this was the place to do it.” As those of us who live here know, he explains, “there’s plenty of action all around us—who could be bored here?” With programs ranging from rock climbing to backcountry skiing, McCain keeps these elite soldiers on their feet—and on the edge of their seats. “Although they may not know what they’re getting into,” he says, “we guarantee they’ll have a great time.” And it’s these exciting, challenging experiences, he notes, that help them maintain healthy relationships at home while recharging them for their next deployment. Which, of course, is exactly what leave is supposed to do.

To learn more about Big Sky Bravery, or to find out how you can help, visit