A current article on the General Aviation News website tells of how the Recreational Aviation Foundation and a veteran’s support group named the Montana Vet Program are helping military veterans in that U.S. state.
The two organizations have been working together with the Montana Pilots Association to provide veterans of all ages with the opportunity to experience challenging outdoor adventures. In mid-August, a group of five veterans was flown from the Seeley Lake area to Montana’s South Fork region, where they were able to connect with nature, each other and themselves.
The outdoor adventures that the Montana Vet Program provides to veterans are led by other veterans, and are sponsored by the Eagle Mount therapeutic recreation program. These adventures are designed to promote healing from different problems through experiencing physical activity and working with other people.
A recent past president of the Montana Pilots Association, Scott Newpower handled the logistics of assembling five volunteer pilots who own their own aircraft. These volunteer pilots not only flew the five veterans from Seeley Lake to Meadow Creek USFS Airport, but they also flew them back home again two days later.
An interesting aspect of the outdoor adventures that the Montana Vet Program provides, is the “pig egg” that adventure participants carry throughout the multi-day event. The pig egg is actually a 75-pound container that holds more than 6,800 dog tags that belonged to military members who were killed in the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts.
In a video that is attached to the General Aviation News article, the pig egg can be seen strapped to a long stick that is attached to two men’s backpacks. As the men walk, the heavy container hangs from the stick that is mounted behind their shoulders.
In addition to hiking and enjoying their outdoor surroundings, the veterans who flew into Meadow Creek in August performed a lot of maintenance work in the area. The painting, windsock posts repair, grass mowing and firewood stacking that they did actually served as camaraderie-building exercises.