Veterans dug up history and camaraderie at the Saratoga National Historical Park, the Revolutionary War battlefield in New York. Well, less so on the history part; but the veterans, many of them suffering from PTSD or physical injury, found support and friendship in each other instead. Isn’t that the real treasure?
“We can all come together, share your battle stories, your deployment stories, and share your love for the history of what you’re digging,” Bjorn Bruckshaw, an injured Iraq veteran, told AP News. He was part of a 15 person team digging at the Second Battle of Saratoga site through the American Veterans Archaeological Recovery organization. The project helps them transition from the military back into civilian life.
Similar to Bruckshaw’s sentiments, Colonel Tim Madere mentioned the camaraderie that comes with working with people who share your experiences. “You hear their stories and then you tell yours so that we kind of get a better appreciation of what all these Americans did to protect the United States,” he said.
Bonding Over a Jeep
Recently, another group of veterans reached each other through hard work and shared experiences. About 50 veterans worked together with Veterans’ Club Inc. on Operation Jeep Build. Together, they learned how to rebuild a Jeep from scratch, with help from trained technicians over nine months.
Iraq War veteran and founder of Veterans’ Club Inc. Jeremy Harrell was incredibly proud of the vets who built the Jeep. Especially of the fact that they even went so far as to learn how to do the paint job. The Jeep isn’t just for show, though; it’ll be added to Veterans’ Club Inc.’s collection of off-road vehicles, used by other vets to get out and let loose.
“It’s therapeutic because they have the opportunity to work with their hands,” said Harrell. Like in the American Veterans Archaeological Recovery organization, “they have the opportunity to connect again, and they also have the opportunity to learn a skill.”
Veterans Help Protect Arizona from Wildfires
Through Verde Earth Technologies (VETs), an environmentally conscious start-up in Arizona, veterans are both protecting Arizona’s natural splendor and finding peace from the effects of trauma.
“All the guys have their own connection to the planet and why they’re out here wanting to do it,” said Chris Young, U.S. Navy veteran. The company offers tree removal, water conservation, and fire prevention, among other services. The veterans cleared out bark beetle infestations and invasive plant species and built fuel breaks near homes. Young says they’re in it initially for conservation of the state and planet; the work helps them “sleep better at night.”
Being in nature is proven to positively impact those with PTSD; these veterans are not only doing good for their planet, but they’re doing good for themselves, as well. They’re getting back into the routine of having a mission, being responsible for something bigger than themselves, and it helps them transition back to civilian life.