Thursday, July 31, 2008

Wounded Soldiers and Marines go Camping

If there is something that Soldiers and Marines are good at, it is leading from the front and working as a team. These ideals will be put to test when visiting Wounded Warriors are paired up one-on-one basis with STRIDE Youth Athletes for a Wounded Warrior Fall Family Retreat at Moreau State Park in Glens Falls in September.

STRIDE also has Wounded Warrior ski and snowboard programs. The photo you see here is from one of those this past winter.

Glens Falls really is in the Adirondaks, but its water feeds into the Hudson River and therefore the Hudson Valley. More importantly, this is such a worthwhile program that it should be mentioned here -- and supported -- including by Hudson Valley businesses who can contribute money as sponsors, or products such as steaks and sleeping bags that the Wounded Warriors, their spouses and their kids, will need for this weekend.

STRIDE is a unique program, since it unites Soldiers, Marines and other Veterans who have sustained injuries and/or disabilities with some of STRIDE’s youth athletes who also have special needs. So, it's theraputic and supportive for both sides.

It is a first of its kind program nationwide. Each soldier, along with their family members ‘volunteers’ to mentor a STRIDE youth athlete with a similar disability for a weekend of learning together. Soldiers and children are introduced via email and ‘pen-pal’ before camping together, so by the time the event is held, it's more like an extended family than a group of strangers.

STRIDE has been taking youths with special needs into the woods of New York State Parks for more than two decades. The success of that program, plus the growing population of U. S. Military members returning from deployment with permanent injuries, prompted them to add this type of camping event.

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