Aguanga resident receives CoBank scholarship for No Barriers USA program

Aguanga veteran Andrea Beach takes part in the No Barriers USA Program expedition in the Colorado Mountains in August. Courtesy photo

The Anza Electric Cooperative and their finance partner, CoBank, announced the acceptance of local Aguanga veteran Andrea Beach into the No Barriers USA Program for 2019 in July.

The CoBank No Barriers USA program for rural veterans provides an opportunity for veterans with disabilities to challenge their own limitations, real and perceived, physical and mental. Through successfully completing demanding activities like rafting, rock climbing and hiking, participants become better equipped to overcome the obstacles they face in their daily lives. By sharing the experience with other veterans with disabilities, they also build a network of support that can last a lifetime.

America’s rural communities are home to millions of men and women who have served in the armed forces, many of whom are living with a disability. CoBank has partnered with No Barriers USA and their customers such as Anza Electric Cooperative to honor and support these veterans by sponsoring up to 50 rural veterans with disabilities to experience the No Barriers Warriors program each year. This sponsorship covers all associated costs for each veteran participant.

In April, the Anza Electric Cooperative nominated Andrea Beach, who is a AEC member, to participate in the program.

“We are pleased to announce that Ms. Beach was awarded one of the 50 CoBank sponsorships given to disabled veterans,” an AEC news release said.

Beach went on her all-expense paid expedition in August, participating in a three-day hike in the Colorado Mountains along with four guides and 10 veterans.

“Only a veteran would understand,” Beach said. “As a veteran, we shared experiences after a long day’s activities.”

The camaraderie they shared over the few days was life-changing, she said, and good for the mind and body as well as the soul.

The expedition moved through three phases. According to Beach, the first day focused on the past; the second day looked at the present and the third day highlighted pledges to better themselves in the future.

Beach said she would like to become an alumni coach for the program.

The expeditions cover a series of four 5-day expeditions through No Barriers Warriors. No Barriers USA is a nonprofit organization that empowers people of all walks of life to overcome obstacles, live a life of purpose and give back to the world, through its ground-breaking curriculum. The Warriors program is designed specifically to serve veterans with disabilities.

Through this program, CoBank customers – cooperatives and other businesses serving rural America – are able to nominate or refer veterans with disabilities from their communities to participate in an expedition designed to challenge their limitations and to create a network of support that can last a lifetime.

The No Barriers Warriors expeditions are described as “one part adventure, one part curriculum and one part physical challenge.” Each expedition is designed to push participants mentally and physically to help them connect with fellow veterans and break through barriers in their lives.

This year, the expeditions took place in Colorado. The moderate-level expeditions included activities such as hiking, rafting and rock climbing specifically designed to accommodate participation by veterans with disabilities. The difficult-level expeditions included back-country treks that involved a mountain summit attempt. These were designed for those with a higher level of physical fitness. Beach participated in a difficult-level expedition.

The program is open to veterans from all eras and branches, combat and noncombat, with visible and invisible injuries.

“We hope to nominate three local veterans in 2020,” AEC officials said.

Additional information on No Barriers and its expeditions may be found at

For more information on CoBank’s involvment, visit them at

Diane Sieker can be reached by email at