Veterans on a WLO nature trek in the San Bernardino mountains.
Nature and the outdoors are some of life’s most powerful healers, and WLO offers veterans opportunities to be outdoors often. “Nature provides the particular environmental stimuli to allow restoration from attention fatigue, which occurs during the performance of cognitive tasks that require prolonged maintenance of directed attention” (Bowler, Buyung-Ali, Knight, and Pullin, 2010, p. 2). Natural environments offers intrigue that restores our bodies. The ART theory suggests,
“Nature may allow psychophysiological stress recovery through innate, adaptive responses to attributes of natural environments such as spatial openness, the presence of pattern or structure, and water features.” Further study has shown that these features promote positive emotions related to safety and survival. Ulrich’s theory is sometimes referred to as the Stress Reduction/Recovery Theory (SRT). These two theoretical orientations have helped to direct much of the research examining the possible mental health and stress-related impacts of nature.”
John Muir has written about Mother Nature’s ability to offer a sense of belonging that lost, longing and tired spirits run to for reprieve and rest. Research has shown that repetitive and rhythmic activities such as walking or hiking may have a direct therapeutic effect on PTSD and reducing stress. Experiential Therapy groups have conducted research and it has consistently shown, “Improved self-esteem, increased self-efficacy, improved behavior and reduced recidivism” (Http://whatworksforhealth.wisc.edu/program.php).
WLO offers, at no charge to the veteran, experiential adventure though a 5-day wilderness trek on the Pacific Crest Trail. Twice each year, a group of 5-8 veterans join with caring mental health counselors, and instructors in a shared healing journey, designed to help them through a variety of healing modalities. Through the Trek, WLO has the opportunity to share many different holistic practices in the natural environment of the wilderness. Through previous WLO lead excursions, Vets have found shared camaraderie and find being with like minded and spirited combat veterans is comfortable and nurturing.
Veterans will experience each other and experience the comfort and healing that can be provided through WLO practitioners and volunteers. These people will become mentors to our Combat Veteran participants and continue to have contact with their mentors as they finish the trek and move through their scholarship program.
Step forward by joining us on the Life and Liberty Trek
The journey helps to get Combat Veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan to step into the ease of healing the outdoors has to offer. Being out on the trail allows veterans to get in touch with our deeper sense of self, to develop the courage to face fear, and have a vision of the self that lies beyond the trauma. Support is for a vision of new life possibilities is key when dealing with symptoms of PTSD.
For information about the date of the next trek check out the Events page.
For new and returning veterans that are interested in participating in an upcoming trek, we ask that you fill out the assessment form below and bring it to your next visit to Eight Elements West.