Veterans Recreation and Community Service Project
Organized by: Natasha Galvin
The mission of this project is to provide support to veterans through community service and outdoor recreation. According to the US Department of Veterans Affairs, "the veteran population is at higher risk for suicide than the general population (2016). Many of the risk factors increasing the occurrence of suicidal thoughts and behavior include depression, traumatic or stressful events, physical or mental health conditions, and chronic pain. The University of Michigan released a "Top Ten Things You Can Do for Your Mental Health" list suggesting to: 1. Value Yourself 4. Give Yourself 7. Set Realistic Goals 10.Seek Help 2. Take Care of Your Body 5. Learn How to Deal with Stress 8. Break Up the Monotony 3. Surround Yourself With Good People 6. Quiet Your Mind 9. Avoid Unhealthy Habits Community service and recreational activities encompass the qualities of each of these suggestions. My goal is to combine the two concepts to establish a non-profit program for veterans to volunteer community service hours to receive recreational opportunities. I've recently partnered with The Little Forks Conservancy and the City of Midland, Michigan to provide programs while we raise funds to apply for 501c non-profit status. The Little Forks Conservancy has offered us an opportunity to use their private conservation lands for kayaking, camping, fishing, rustic camping, hiking, and nature studies for an exchange of volunteer service. Volunteering would be recreation/outdoor-based and members would choose the program of their interest. Little Forks is looking for groups to conduct river clean up (they provide the kayaks, waders, and nets), water sampling of local trout streams (they provide the gear), trail maintenance, and other projects. Little Forks will provide us their staff to provide our group personal tours of their lands and allow us to use their lands for gatherings. The City of Midland is providing mentorship and guidance in establishing a recreational program, offering staff support of concept development, and offering community service opportunities such as adopt-a-park and adopt-a-project. Our current city project will include the clean-up of the city's cemetery to prepare for the Memorial Day ceremony in May, 2016. My passion and dedication to this cause developed from the loss of 3 comrades to suicide (within the past three years) after their military service. It is my goal to bring a sense of belonging and purpose to veterans in their home communities while also providing them morale, welfare, and recreation opportunities.