There is something about nature that can put your mind and soul at ease. Whether it's the fresh air, the sounds of the river, the humbling feeling of learning a new skill, or the good old-fashioned camaraderie, the outdoors can be a powerful place. Of the hundreds of thousands of veterans who have been wounded or are dealing with issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder, many have found the outdoors vital to their recovery process. Below are just a few of the many organizations that provide programs and resources for wounded veterans to experience the outdoors in ways that otherwise might not be possible.
Established in 2005, Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing is a non-profit organization dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military service personnel and disabled veterans through fly fishing and associated activities including education and outings. Healing Waters Fly Fishing offers over 170 programs across all 50 states including casting classes, fly tying, and guided trips. The classes are lead by volunteers and are completely free to the participants. In 2013 alone, more than 130,000 hours were donated by 2,400 PHWFF volunteers. This enabled more than 5,400 disabled veterans and recovering warriors to participate in PHWFF programs.
Operation Surf is a program through Amazing Surf Adventures that gives wounded veterans the ability to learn to surf. Op Surf partners with Operation Comfort to bring a unique form of recreation rehabilitation to veterans, exposing them to the healing power of the ocean through adaptive surfing. Amazing Surf Adventures has been around for about four years, and it has already impacted the lives of many. If you are a surfer or just want to get involved, Operation Surf is looking for volunteers.
Founded in 1941 by educator Kurt Hahn, Outward Bound is a non-profit education organization that serves people of all ages and backgrounds through challenging learning expeditions that focus on character development, leadership and service. Outward Bound has special programs that help thousands of returning service members and military veterans to life at home through the healing power of the wilderness and by reinforcing the gratification, confidence and self-worth that comes with working within a group. These courses build the skills necessary to successfully return to their life after wartime service.
Wounded Warrior Project was established to raise awareness and enlist the public’s aid for the needs of injured service members. They also provide a number of programs and services to aid these veterans. The program offerings vary from outdoor rehabilitative retreats, adaptive sports, and recreational activities to education assistance and benefits services. There are numerous public events that benefit Wounded Warriors including 8-kilometer runs and Tough Mudder
. By 2017, over 100,000 veterans and their families will be served through Wounded Warrior Project.
Free Park Admittance in Honor of Veterans Day
In honor of Veterans Day, many states give free admittance to their parks for veterans and military personnel (California). Others give free admittance for ALL visitors (Washington, Virginia and Florida). This year, the National Park Service
is waiving entrance fees to all parks for all visitors. Visit your state's park page for more information.
We at Outdoor Project want to thank all our veterans for their service and all the organizations who aid their transitions home.