Immense progress has been made in veteran services and support, especially when it comes to helping retired service members recover from the physical, emotional and mental toll of combat, in the past decade. One of the reasons why so much improvement and diversification have occurred is the more creative approaches to treatment that have arisen in that time, with more emphasis being placed on customization of regimens and strategies for each veteran. 

"Athletics are a growing trend in veteran treatment."

One of the umbrella trends in this movement revolves around athletics, with smaller groups working to incorporate engaging physical activities to get veterans on the right track toward recovery. Two such instances of this have been seen in Missouri and Illinois of late. 

Recreational recoveries
The Southern recently reported that the Marion Veterans Affairs Medical Center has developed and launched therapy plans that allow veterans to choose from various recreational activities to improve their overall experiences with treatment. Again, this is not necessarily a one-of-a-kind project, but is certainly one that has begun to grow nicely in St. Louis, Missouri, where that VA medical center is located. 

According to the news provider, the strategy is specifically targeted at veterans who suffered spinal cord injuries during the time they served the military, as this group needs approaches to treatment that will get them moving. The source listed some of the activities, including scuba diving, wheelchair lacrosse and bocce ball, with adaptive sports equipment that can be used by injured veterans made available by certain groups. 

Later, The Southern went on to cite the comments of Paralyzed Veterans of America National Vice President Hack Albertson regarding the importance of being mobile:

"Getting out here is a chance to give them their dignity back," Albertson told the news provider. "If you are in your house and don't get out, you are going to become more unhealthy…and you are depressed. That is what these does – it keeps bad things from happening."

Another activity being offered through this program is fishing, which is the sport that one group in Illinois has narrowed in on in efforts to help veterans recover. 

Recreational therapy has become a powerful approach to veteran treatment. Recreational therapy has become a powerful approach to veteran treatment.

Angling the treatment
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently reported that two Army veterans, Nicholas Harding and Daniel Kennedy, in Decatur, Illinois, are a part of an organization called #22KILL that seeks to assist veterans who are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. According to the source, Harding and Kennedy are skilled anglers – a style of fishing – and work to identify veterans who are struggling with emotional and mental hardships, then helping them to heal through fishing.  

"Volunteer boaters are paired with a veteran, and they take them out to fish for either catfish, bass or crappie," Harding told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "It's an entire weekend, and the organizers raise all kinds of money to pay for it, and we don't pay a dime for room, board, food or nothing. They really take care of us vets."

The news provider pointed out that this group gave itself this name in recognition of the VA report on veteran suicide and depression rates released several years ago.