Green Bay, Wis. (WFRV) – You might know him as the man with the most ‘Benevolent Beard’ in America.

But there’s much more to Ryan Baudhuin’s story and it begins in the U.S. Marine Corps.

“The Marine Corps is an attitude and you know, a swagger, and that spoke to me directly. It’s a cult in a way, the largest gun club in the world. That brotherhood is very strong,” Baudhuin said.

Five years in, and a deployment to what’s known as the Triangle of Death in Iraq, Baudhuin saw his share of combat. 

“War is a lot of boredom, waiting for action, and when that action comes, it’s intense. I mean, I miss that. Obviously, there is parts to that that are not fun, but there’s nothing like that intensity,” he said.

What do you do when you transition back to civilian life, that intensity, gone?

“Adjusting to realizing that I was going from combat where you’re a warrior, all of that intensity that’s attractive, now I’m sitting at a desk, I’m sitting in a cubicle and I’m wondering, ‘Is this what life is going to be like?'” Baudhuin recalled.

That was when Baudhuin realized that he was having trouble coping, and adjusting to the real world.

But Baudhuin was determined that wouldn’t be his life, and that change started on a veteran’s hunting trip.

“That event kind of propelled my direction. I picked up a camera the next year. I mean I didn’t have a nice camera, it was a point-and-shoot Casio, but people were saying I had the eye, you can’t teach that. I bought better equipment and next thing you know, I’m quitting my job,” he said.

Feeling he had combined all of his passions into one career, ‘Ryan Off the Grid’ photography and videography were born. It was this veteran’s path to finding himself again.

Now, he wanted to help other veterans do the same.

“I realized I needed to go back, come full circle and take vets, it’s not even just vets, sometimes it’s kids, or gold-star kids, or sick kids, or just people that deserve an opportunity to go do this, to relax, to have no pressure,” said Baudhuin.

High Point Adventures- Baudhuin’s non-profit organization that, like Baudhuin says, gives others an opportunity to take a hunting trip like he once did, one that changed his life.

“It’s a constant process. If I’m struggling, I can call a vet that I took, or vice versa. You’ll see that, or someone will call me and say, ‘So and so from this hunt, something’s up (with them).’ We’ll notice it, you’re building this support network throughout the country, and seeing that happen is kind of special,” he said.

And so for all of these reasons, the man behind the beard, Ryan Baudhuin, earned Wahl’s most Benevolent Beard award in 2022, receiving a nice check for his nonprofit.

And while facial grooming, hunting, and photography are all passions for this combat veteran, it’s about the bigger picture.

“It’s not the answer to the mental health crisis in the veteran community. It’s something that, if it’s working on a small scale or a large scale, it doesn’t matter. If one guy is pulled out of the darkness, it’s worth it.. Right?”

You can find more about High Point Adventures here and Ryan Off The Grid here.