Since the end of the Civil War, there have been countless stories of American Veterans returning home from war and heading into the wilderness to heal their wounds and cleanse their souls. Our generation is no different. Since 2001, Iraq and Afghanistan Vets have been increasingly turning to nature and outdoor recreation to leave the war behind. We have also seen a significant rise in the number of organizations that offer some sort of outdoor programming for Veterans.
What is it about nature that heals us? What happens to our minds and bodies when we are immersed in the natural world? Why does getting out into nature seem to reduce our depression and anxiety while simultaneously waking up our senses? What are the benefits of going out alone versus with a close-knit group? Most importantly, if we can identify and measure these benefits, can we augment and improve existing mental health care methods with outdoor or nature elements?
Veterans, we need your help. Over the last 16 years it has been Veterans who have led the way in taking care of our own after returning home from war. We are asking you to step up and take care of the warrior to your left and right by helping us to answer the questions necessary to change the way we treat Post Traumatic Stress.
We are launching a research project to test the benefits of wilderness hiking for Veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress. The study is co-led by Joshua Brandon, a Veteran, and Howard Frumkin, a UW researcher. In the preliminary part of the study—the pilot—we will run some hikes to refine our planning and logistics. Later, we’ll test the benefits of the hikes for Veterans.
We are recruiting 12-16 Veterans for the pilot portion of the project. The pilot will consist of 12 hikes over a three-month period from February to March of 2018. The hikes will be 2-3 hours and of easy to moderate difficulty. The will include some of the best Spring hiking trails in the Western Washington. Veteran leaders will coordinate all hike logistics and lead the hiking team.
Veterans will be given a pair of hiking boots, mid-layer top, and a rain shell for use during the pilot (and for use on a lifetime of future hikes). We will provide transportation in the form of a shuttle bus from a central location to and from the trailhead. Participants are welcome to drive or carpool as well.
Please see the following links for more information: