Outward Bound for Veterans helps returning service members and recent veterans readjust to life at home through powerful wilderness courses that draw on the healing benefit of teamwork and challenge through use of the natural world.
Servicemen and veterans take part in wilderness expeditions that are physically, mentally and emotionally challenging in order to build the self-confidence, pride, trust and communication skills necessary to successfully return to their families, employers and communities following wartime service. These expeditions purposefully scaffold wartime experiences (carrying heavy packs, sore shoulders, rubbery legs, sleeping out, strange noises, sweat, dirt, frustration and anger) with authentic achievements to create positive emotional and mental outcomes.
Wilderness activities are used as metaphors for daily life experiences in the pursuit of individual and group excellence, illuminating how the support and collaboration needed to meet Outward Bound goals can positively impact participants' interactions with others at home. Many veterans experienced courage, brotherhood and a real sense of power and competence while in combat. Outward Bound gives Veterans and service members the opportunity to re-experience these strengths in themselves in a different context, thus helping them to transition back to civilian life.
Outward Bound's first courses for veterans were established through collaboration with Veterans Administration Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) units to serve Vietnam War veterans. Outward Bound renewed the program in 2006 to serve Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, running one such course each year. The 2006 and 2007 courses both received overwhelmingly positive evaluations. Based on this success, in 2008 Outward Bound received a three-year, $4.3 million grant from Military Family Outdoor Initiative Project (MFO). More recently Outward Bound for Veterans has received the generous support of Holiday Retirement Communities, Fortress Investments, and a network of private donors and charitable foundations that allow us to serve over 600 veterans a year.