Veterans Get Chance to Push Physical, Mental Limits

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 12, 2008 - An offshoot of a nonprofit educational program founded in England during World War II to prepare young sailors to endure adversity at sea during wartime is helping U.S. war veterans today.

'Outward Bound' expeditions specifically designed for veterans and supported by the Sierra Club are an extension of this effort," said Meg Ryan, project manager for the Colorado-based program's Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom expedition division.

For more than 20 years, the military program, now fully funded by the Sierra Club, includes travel to course destinations and an opportunity for physical and mental challenges in beautiful wilderness locations across the country, Ryan said.

"All costs, including travel to the expedition, are fully supported by the Military Family Outdoor Initiative Project," she said.

War veterans have two choices when participating in an Outward Bound veteran expedition. An open enrollment allows them to sign up for a pre-scheduled course and attend as individuals. Customized expeditions also are available to pre-existing groups and can be tailored to fit specific needs.

"During these transformational wilderness adventures, ... veterans and servicemembers have hands-on opportunities to challenge themselves both physically and mentally while building on strengths and reinforcing the positive aspects of military training," Ryan said. "They work to regain personal independence, build camaraderie, and improve self-confidence to help create a smoother reintegration into civilian life."

Outward Bound is a new supporter of America Supports You, a Defense Department program connecting citizens and companies with servicemembers and their families serving at home and overseas.

"Outward Bound needs assistance in getting out the word to veterans service organizations, military installations, ... and all those in contact with military servicemembers about the opportunity available to them free of charge," Ryan said.

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