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According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, recreational therapy can provide additional coping mechanisms related to stress and intense emotions by lowering levels of anxiety, providing social opportunities, and creating a sense of community. It is said that cohesion and engagement are important factors for healing and integrating among veterans. Some, like Link Up Vets president and founder Michael Aaron, have an acute understanding of this and strive to share the message with others.
The mission statement of Link Up Vets recognizes the importance of outdoor activities. It reads in part, “Link Up Vets is dedicated to the future success and wellness of our nation’s veterans. Through the use of the outdoors and community outreach, we create stress-free environments to connect like-minded brothers and sisters in arms.”
“To a good group of veterans, the outdoors is very important. It’s called recreational therapy,” said Aaron.
Link Up Vets provides a variety of outdoor activities including shooting, hiking, hunting, fishing, golf, and camping. They put on one or two events a month, including two different types of events: veterans-only events; and family events, where veterans can bring along their friends and family. The veterans-only events usually bring around 10 to 15 people, and the family events draw around 20 to 25 people.
Aaron explained that it is important for veterans to interact with each other and be able to enjoy themselves outdoors. Link Up Vets also tries to have a wide variety of activities in order to attract as many people