Happy New Year’s Sierra Club Nation! 2011 was a great year for us at the Military Families and Veterans Initiative, but one that certainly brought a great number of positive changes and challenges to our programs that we certainly hope you’ll be a part of in 2012.
We certainly hope one of your resolutions for 2012 is to spend more time outside!
One of our initiatives for 2012 is centered around hearing from you, the military and veteran community (including families, youth, and spouses) and the Sierra Club outings community so that together, we can build an outings program and leadership training program that best meets the needs of the military and veteran community.
We will be hosting 10 active duty military and veterans for a weekend, along with 10 Sierra Club outings leaders at Island Wood near Seattle, WA from February 17-19th for an intensive experiential based listening session. We will be hosting a similar listening session near Washington DC from March 23-25th and a military spouses and veterans caregivers specific listening session in Colorado from April 13th-15th. We need your voices to make this program successful. If you are interested in attending one of these listening sessions and building this program, please get in touch with me by leaving a comment here or e-mailing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The listening sessions will flow into leadership training sessions throughout the summer and will be augmented by a number of other partner programs conducting leadership training on our behalf for the military and veteran community. You have already been reading about some of our other outings partners who, along with the University of Michigan will be research partners to help us show the positive changes some time in the outdoors and wilderness can bring.
We firmly believe that this research will help all programs working with the military and veteran community outdoors. The saying, ‘A wave lifts all boats’ certainly applies here. And while we are very excited about our partner programs, we are also very excited about a number of other programs that are making a difference by ensuring that our military men and women and their families can enjoy the freedom of the land they defended!
One of these programs is Outward Bound (OB). OB and the Sierra Club have a long tradition of working together with the Club providing funding for several years for OB to run its veteran programming.
Just a few of the testimonial quotes from past veteran participants on OB courses. I can say with certainty, that every outdoor program has similar statements from its participants. There's just something about being outdoors!
It gave me a new benchmark to measure things by besides Iraq. Much nicer."
"I am a strong person, much stronger than I gave myself credit for. My life is not over yet."
Another great program that is out there for you and your families to participate in is Challenge Aspen Military Opportunities. A part of the overall Challenge Aspen program, Houston Cowan and Sarah Volf have been doing great work in Colorado’s Roaring Fork Valley since 2005!
There are literally dozens, if not 100s of more programs out there that exist to get you the service member, veteran, military spouse, or military child outside. Its up to you to take the challenge, push yourself, or just sit yourself back into a raft, or cast dreamily into a trout stream. Whatever your fancy, just get outdoors—and if you need any help or have any questions, get in touch, we’ll get you outside!
~Stacy Bare, OIF Veteran
Military Families and Veteran Representative to the Sierra Club
"Helping America's Military and Veteran Community experience the freedom of the land they defend"