Touch of Nature Veteran Adventures Program
Veteran Adventures is an outdoor adventure based veterans program started by SIU’s Touch of Nature Environmental Center that aims to accomplish the following:
Offer community building for veterans in the Illinois region. The transition from military to civilian life can be challenging. Leaving our respected units, as well as our friends and comrades who have ultimately been our support group for years, can be an overwhelming experience. We often wonder if we will ever share the same strong bonds with people we’ll meet. That’s where Veteran Adventures comes in. Its goal is to ease the transition into civilian life by providing a platform to forge relationships with like-minded veterans. In doing so, we hope to provide opportunities to build upon the same kind of strong comradery that we found while serving in the military.
Present challenging and adventurous opportunities to strengthen bonds between veterans. It’s one thing to meet other veterans at a registered student organization meeting, or out on the town, and swap stories. It’s something completely different when that same group of veterans is depending upon one another to make it safely through a series of class IV rapids or up the summit of a snow-covered mountain. The relationships formed during high-intensity situations are some of the strongest we will ever create. That’s why many of us have such strong bonds with comrades from our military experiences. Veteran Adventures aims to enhance those unwavering bonds by providing challenging and adventurous opportunities that push us outside of our comfort zones.
Provide veterans with mental health assistance without the stigma of traditional mental health avenues. The program uses wilderness expeditions to provide participants with challenging and adventurous opportunities that build trust and communication, while also promoting an emotionally safe environment that encourages group support and vulnerability. Using team based challenges that promote camaraderie provides participants with a greater opportunity to be vulnerable and share personal issues that may be standing in the way of an effective transition from military to civilian life.
Show support and gratitude for the sacrifice that our service members have made. When it’s all said and done, Veteran Adventures wants to give something back to a community that has given so much. Military Times ranks Southern Illinois University Carbondale as one of the top veteran-friendly campuses in the nation, with veterans making up 7 percent of the student population. SIU is the perfect fit to offer this program.
Future goals: Veteran Adventures strives to provide top-quality experiences to veterans at the lowest possible cost. Through fundraising, scholarships and donations, we aim to provide these programs to veterans at little or no cost. As we continue to grow through the support of our donors, we aim to expand our outreach to veterans across the country