When I came home from war, it was time outside that kept me alive, and ultimately connected me to a community of veterans and non-veterans who helped me later to thrive. I realized it was the country --- the very physical country contained in all its forests, mountains, beaches, tundra, prairie, and everything in between --- that I fought for. It was these lands and trees and waters that allowed me to meet my fellow resident as an equal; we had the same opportunities, we had the same access. Even if we didn’t have all of our limbs, or all of our mind still with us, we could make what we chose to make of a day outside.
As summer starts, I want you to get out there, find a new mission in a mountain to climb or a river to run, or even an adventure in your local park or backyard. Rather than continue to wax poetically about the beauty of the outdoors, take a look through the list below for opportunities available to you, and get outdoors.
This list is meant as a starting point for individual research and decision-making and is certainly not exhaustive. Please list other resources in the comments section and we’ll update this as we learn about more organizations.
A great place to start sifting through the support providers and support wanted or needed listings can be found at Warrior Gateway, which provides a number of different resources for service members and veterans to connect.
All military members and their dependents have free access to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites and public lands through a program called America the Beautiful. Be sure to check out the locations closest to you and your family and pick up a pass right away.
Obviously, we at Sierra Club Outdoors are very proud of the many opportunities we provide for service members, veterans and their families. More information on trips and activities can always be found at our blog and website. Additionally, all veterans and military family members receive 10% off our national outings.
One of the programs we’ve had the opportunity to partner with is the National Military Family Association’s Operation Purple Program, which sends military kids to summer camp where they can connect with children from other military families.
A number of outdoor recreation and recreational therapy organizations have come together to form the R4 Alliance to try and minimize the challenges of finding the right opportunities and support organizations for military personnel and families.
Additionally, here are some other valuable organizations to check out:
- Outward Bound for Veterans
- Paradox Sports
- Soldiers to Summits
- Challenge Aspen
- Soldiers Undertaking Disabled Scuba
- Student Conservation Association: Veteran's Fire Corps
- Southwest Conservation Corps
- Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center
- Wasatch Adaptive Sports
- Operation Amped
- The Montana Wilderness Association
- Warrior Hike
- Veteran Outdoors
- Camp Patriot
Now get outside!
Stacy Bare is a climber, aspiring mountaineer, sometimes surfer, and OIF vet who is currently the director of Sierra Club Outdoors. He is a proud graduate of the University of Mississippi and lives with his wife in Utah.