Sierra Club Foundation Helps Servicemembers

Sierra
Chris Kassar

 

The Sierra Club Foundation is a grateful beneficiary of the Combined Federal Campaign and a National Member of EarthShare.  The organization depends on tax-deductible donations to fulfill their mission, which is to help educate, inspire and empower humanity to preserve the natural and human environment. As the fiscal sponsor of the charitable programs of the Sierra Club, the foundation provides resources to it and other nonprofit organizations to support charitable scientific, educational, literary, organizing, advocacy, and legal programs that further the mission.

The Sierra Club Foundation is proud to provide support to the nation’s military families and veterans.  The goal of Sierra Club Military Outdoors (SCMO) is to ensure that service members, veterans, and their families have the skills, exposure, and knowledge to access the outdoors.  SCMO activities promote mental health resiliency and leadership development prior to deployment, as well as rehabilitative experiences in nature after their return to improve mental and social health. The fundamental belief of the program is that veterans should be empowered with the skills and tools necessary to not only enjoy the lands they defended, but to lead their fellow veterans in the outdoors as well.  Since 2007, SCMO has connected over 50,000 service members and their families to the outdoors.

In an effort to better prepare our fighting men and women for the challenges they will face in the course of their service, SCMO launched the Warrior Resiliency Program. The program empowers service men and women with the ability to overcome challenges to their physical, emotional, and spiritual health through the use of outdoor activities.  After successfully implementing the inaugural program at Fort Bliss Texas in 2013, SCMO is expanding the program to over 10 units in 2014.          

Having already bravely faced the challenges of combat deployments, veterans leave one fight behind them only to begin the often life-long struggle of recovery and reintegration. SCMO challenges veterans to conquer their perceived physical and mental limitations through wilderness and mountain expeditions that include rock and ice climbing, backpacking, and 911 mountaineering events. The program encourages veteran leadership and tenacity to lead climate recon expeditions in remote environments such as the Arctic Circle and Glacier National Park. Additionally, SCMO partners with the Outside Adventure Film School in the Veteran Storytellers Project to mentor veterans in the technical skills necessary to tell their own stories, as well as those of their peers, while challenging themselves through wilderness adventure.

Over the last thirteen years of conflict, military families have been faced with numerous challenges resulting from multiple combat deployments and an increased operations tempo. Recognizing this, SCMO, in partnership with military and outdoor organizations across the country, hosts the annual Celebration of the Military Child Outdoors series.  This program connects military families directly with organizations that provide them with the tools, access, and services to cope with these challenges through the use of nature and outdoor activities. In 2013, SCMO signed a landmark agreement with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to increase access and opportunities for veterans and active duty personnel on BLM lands throughout the country.

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