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Thursday, May 24, 2012
Science Environment

New Evidence Shows Being Active Outdoors Benefits Veterans

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Studies and anecdotal evidence are pointing toward a surprisingly simply way to help veterans deal with combat injuries and stress: getting them outdoors. The Allegheny Front’s Jennifer Szweda Jordan spoke with Stacy Bare, who heads up The Sierra Club’s Military Families and Veterans Initiative, about how time in the outdoors is benefiting many veterans.
(Stacy Bare)
Stacy Bare of The Sierra Club’s Military Families and Veterans initiative, which helps veterans through outdoor activities.

The Sierra Club’s mission for its Military Families and Veterans Initiative is, “to ensure those who defended our country and their families get to enjoy the land they served.”  Heading up that mission is Stacy Bare, an Iraq war veteran, based in Washington D.C.

Bare said being outdoors helped him deal with the stresses of being a veteran and move forward with his own life after returning home.

When I came back from Iraq in 2007,” he said, “it was ultimately returning to the outdoors that helped me deal with issues like post-traumatic stress, mild traumatic brain injury and issues around depression and suicide.”

Now studies and anecdotal evidence are showing that outdoor activities — from contemplative exercises like hiking and birding to more adrenaline-filled sports like white water rafting and skiing — help many veterans transition back into civilian life.

I think the benefit of the outdoors are that it gives you camaraderie, a sense of purpose, a mission, and a sense of physicality that is oftentimes missing when you come out of the uniform,” Bare said.

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