Scientists Are Trying To Measure The Value Of Outdoor Service Work For Transitioning Veterans
Speaker 1: 00:00 Congress is considering legislation to encourage outdoor therapy for veterans with injuries or posttraumatic stress. The bipartisan bill would require the VA to coordinate with the interior department and other agencies to establish recreation and treatment programs on public lands. Volunteer groups. They're already running similar programs in national parks and researchers are trying to measure their medical impact from Miami. Maria Bakula Pulau reports from the American Home Front project Speaker 2: 00:30 on a clear sunny day. We take a boat ride with a group of veterans and their family members to dock at Buka Cheetah key part of the Biscayne National Park. They will spend the afternoon doing maintenance and cleanup work. Alright, you guys, all the kids. You guys are on the trash detail, right? Leading today's efforts is Joshua Moreno and archeologists with the park and a veteran himself only take 40 folks court able bodied and willing and excited to help. They have an outlet for that energy that whatever they may be dealing with. This provides a positive outlet. Jacqueline crew set is the associate director of the National Parks Conservation Association, a citizen Advocacy Group. She helped organize the outing, not just to fix up the park but also to help these veterans. Speaker 3: 01:19 There is therapeutic value. We feel it in ourselves as human beings. Our veterans talk about it, you know, walking the trail, walking off the war is a common phrase. Speaker 2: 01:29 Cruise set is among a group of advocates around the country who want nature activities like this recognized as part of therapy for PTSD and other issues veterans face. So far it has been a hard sell. Speaker 3: 01:44 It's always easier to have a pill be paid for through insurance, VA or otherwise. Then to have a park prescription, uh, recognized and valued as therapy. Speaker 2: 02:01 But a growing number of scientists are trying to quantify that value. Greg Brian with the National Center for Veterans Studies at the University of Utah is doing research where he takes a veterans and active duty service members out into nature for two week retreats. They were fitbit's into other monitors and Brian says, therapists talk with them every day about how they're feeling. Speaker 4: 02:26 There's still a large knowledge gap, um, related to non medical based, uh, interventions. And so that's an important next step to increase the quality of that scientific research that we'd can better understand the ways in which, uh, outdoor activities. Speaker 2: 02:46 Several veterans said the excursion of Biscayne National Park was helpful to them. The veterans demolish a 30 foot wooden bridge damaged by Hurricane Irma. There is laughter, enthusiasm, sweat and comradery. Speaker 5: 03:02 Yeah, I'll pull that one off. Yeah. Yeah. Put off. There it is. That's one way of doing it. My name is Derek [inaudible]. Did one combat tour to Iraq, a humanitarian tour to Haiti after the earthquake. Yeah. My wife saw me as this hard charger soldier took on anything to Nan being somebody's spending days on my couch was not working. Speaker 2: 03:30 Oh, geese had a hard time getting past his army memories, especially from Haiti, where he saw the earthquakes, immediate aftermath. He's now a platoon leader with the mission continues a nonprofit that helps veterans adjust to life at home. [inaudible] son Donovan, a mature 13 year old is by his dad's side helping carry planks of wood away. Speaker 5: 03:53 How's my father? And he feels free to do what he wants because in the military you had to do what you ere general did. He's game more with veterans. This is helping our communities. Speaker 2: 04:05 This idea of nature as part of therapy for veterans is gaining a lot of momentum. In November, the University of Utah will hold a symposium to build on the research and encourage more funding to go into it. I'm Maria buckle up below in Miami. Speaker 1: 04:24 This story was produced by the American Home Front project, a public media collaboration that reports on American military life and veteran's funding comes from the corporation for public broadcasting. Speaker 6: 04:35 Ah.