Vets on the River
Vets on the River program goals:
The Riverway’s “Vets on the River” started in 2012 with a canoe trip for eight female veterans. The following year, Park Ranger Jeff Butler, an Army veteran, began working with the county veterans service officers to coordinate experiential programming (canoe and kayak trips, pontoon honor cruises, camping trips, and Fly fishing trips) for veterans and their family members. Veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan have participated.
The NPS preserves and protects the vast American landscapes that define our nation. These public lands bring healing and reflection, physical and mental challenges, and rest and recuperation to millions of veterans, active duty service members, and their families. The scenic and recreational value of our national parks to the mental and physical health of the military community is unparalleled and almost completely lacking research.Through its “Healthy Parks, Healthy People Strategic Action Plan” and “A Call to Action: Preparing for a Second Century of Stewardship and Engagement,” the NPS encourages, nurtures, and supports new approaches and innovations that promote the connection between public lands and public health. As one of the 423 units of the National Park System, the Riverway has a focus on programming that promotes outdoor activities that contribute to physical, mental, and spiritual health, and social well-being.
Park units across the country are engaged in outreach efforts with the military community. As relationships, networks, and partnerships are formed, all involved learn about the issues facing veterans, active duty service members, and their families; the opportunities afforded by the National Park System; and what programs and practices are beneficial. Coordinated efforts can be successful in communicating with the broader public.
Contact: Michelle Blees, Interpretation and Education Program Manager, at 715-483-2278 or e-mail us for additional information.
Watch a video about a young veteran suffering from PTSD describe how the Vets On The River Program at the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway has helped him.
Last updated: August 28, 2022