The return from combat is an emotional roller coaster for our veterans. Adapting to life back home, many dealing with injuries internal and external, is a process made easier by spending time outdoors.
but what we can do is give them peace for a moment in time…
A celebration of our gratitude, laughter around a fire, and normalcy amongst peers for a moment in time…
Veterans are a population at high risk for emotional stress that weighs on entire families. Our nation’s wounded veterans suffer from depression, alcoholism, and suicide rates much higher than the national average. The VA publishes that 22 veterans commit suicide daily. That rate is substantially higher than the national average for non-veterans, and the rate for young veterans, the 700,000 who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past 10 years, is growing. Other veteran problems associated with coping with that stress and depression are high rates of drug and alcohol abuse and violence.
The effect is beyond personal for these wounded heroes as well – it destroys their families and burdens their communities with costs of social services, violence, and unproductive citizens. Two million children live with war veterans, and as many as 500,000 are clinically depressed. The rate of physical domestic violence in veteran homes associated with alcohol abuse rose 54% over the period of 2001 and 2011.
The problem is not solvable via military resources alone – the military clearly states that community resources beyond veteran services must be developed and aided to successfully help our heroes and their families (Cost of War, 2014, www.costofwar.org). Texas has the second highest veteran population in the country (only behind California) as well, with 1.3 million war heroes.
For our heroes, our valiant men and women who have served in the military, Trinity Oaks hosts an experience of a lifetime! Through adaptive methods, such as Trinity Oaks’ Action Trackchair (a customized, all-terrain wheelchair on tracks), veterans can move beyond physical limitations to enjoy hunting and fishing with increased mobility and independence. Trinity Oaks understands that not all injuries are physical and often host live combat veterans who are dealing with PTSD and other mental traumas.
For most warriors, simply being outdoors and participating in the great sports of hunting and fishing is the best form of therapy. At the end of each trip the harvested fish and game is processed and given to the participants or distributed to others who are in need of a nutritious meal.
Warriors on the Water at Ned’s Backyard (“WoW”) is a military service appreciation program that was started in 2009 and became part of the Trinity Oaks family in 2016. The purpose is to give wounded veterans and their families a relaxing day on the water; away from hospitals or being shut in at home, to reconnect in a peaceful and fun outdoor venue. Our goal is provide a setting that fosters fun activities and dialogue between people that are dealing with similar circumstances. We use outdoor activities like swimming, fishing, boating, kayaking and jet skiing to help families of veterans laugh and create healthy, summer memories. Since 2009, we have hosted over 50 events, with over 2,000 warriors and their families attending.
We invite veterans and their families to our house on Lake Placid, east of San Antonio, and serve them with a relaxing day of food, drinks, and games, allowing them connect in a casual environment. Veterans and their families have told us that it reminds them of a big family reunion. You can talk to everyone, or go off by yourself to fish, play lawn games, or take a nap in a hammock, under a tree. Also, many new friendships have been formed with soldiers talking to other soldiers, while spouses can talk about things only they are dealing with that lets them know they are not alone. WoW events are free to attend, we are always looking for volunteers to help prepare food and with the day-of-organization. Please, see the schedule of events page for more information and when our next WoW at Ned’s Backyard will be! We hope to see you then!
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