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Contact: Dana Polk, 415-786- 8021
SAN FRANCISCO, CA -- The Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) provides much needed open space and easy access to nature for close to 20 million visitors a year, it also serves as a refuge and resource for military Veterans and active military. Throughout the year, GGNRA partners with the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy and Veteran-serving organizations to provide opportunities for Veterans to heal, continue to serve their country, and prepare for civilian careers.
“The Golden Gate National Recreation Area encompasses a number of former military sites. It is appropriate that these parklands have now become a place of healing and service to Veterans and active military,” said Cicely Muldoon, acting Superintendent of GGNRA. “We are pleased to partner with the Parks Conservancy and other organizations doing great work for, and with, Veterans.”
The Wellness and Recovery Incorporating Outdoor Recreation (WARIOR) program was developed through a partnership with GGNRA, Psychosocial Rehabilitation and Recovery Center (PRRC) at Fort Miley Veterans Administration (VA) Hospital and the Parks Conservancy. WARIOR offers park experiences every month aimed at improving Veterans’ mental health and wellness, increasing access to the parks, and assisting Veterans to reintegrate into their communities, starting with park visits and progressing to volunteering/vocational opportunities. The WARIOR program serves over one hundred
Veterans a year, ages 30-75 years old with differing physical and emotional challenges.
“I’ve seen Veterans experiencing tremendous benefits as a result of their participation in the WARIOR program,” said Mark Smith, Occupational Therapist at the Fort Miley VA and program guide. “The Veterans learn to use nature as a healing resource, whether their wounds are physical, emotional, or spiritual, and reconnect with a sense of meaning and purpose.”
The historic Presidio Stables in GGNRA’s Marin Headlands, offers space to Project HOPE (Honoring our Veteran Personnel with Equine assisted therapy). Equine therapy is a form of experiential therapy that involves interactions between patients and horses. “The Golden Gate National Recreation Area offers a therapeutic environment to safely address past or current trauma events, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,” explained Kim Maclean, executive director and co-founder. “In this natural park setting, the client can learn, grow socially and emotionally, and develop valuable life skills using equine assisted therapy.”
Patients take part in activities (such as grooming, haltering and leading a horse) that are supervised by a mental health professional, with the support of a horse professional.
Another GGNRA partner, the Concrete Preservation Institute (CPI) provides professional training in concrete preservation to Veterans and active duty military personnel on Alcatraz island. Throughout the 12-week program, the trainees work full-time on the Island, where they learn from CPI staff, GGNRA historic rehabilitation experts, and leading industry professionals.
“Without our partnership with CPI, we would not have the capacity to rehabilitate many of Alcatraz’s failing concrete structures,” explained GGNRA Historical Architect Jason Hagin. “This partnership is a win-win as it provides for the preservation of an important National Landmark, while also giving military alumni the skills and experience to move directly into well-paid jobs in the skilled construction trades.” CPI will hold its first graduation of active duty military personnel on November 15 in the park.
- NPS -
The National Park Service has more than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 417 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to- home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov.
Golden Gate National Recreation Area, situated in and around San Francisco, is the most visited park in the National Park Service, hosting over 15.5 million visitors last year. A diverse park with abundant recreational opportunities, as well as natural, cultural, and scenic resources, it encompasses more than 80,000 acres across three counties. The park also administers two other NPS areas, Fort Point National Historic Site, a Civil War era fortress built on the northernmost point of land in San Francisco, and Muir Woods National Monument, which comprises an impressive stand of old growth coastal redwoods in Marin County.