This makes so much damn sense it's amazing that it's such a new program: Veterans back from military service get the opportunity to decompress—while still serving our country—by doing work in small units inside our National Parks.
Win. Win. Win. Win. Win.
Among the many good outcomes the New York Times noticed when one of its reporters recently dropped in on a group of veterans helping out in California's Sequoia National Park:
The veterans benefit from having work (albeit at $8 an hour) and from being in a familiar situation: part of a small group in a far-off location with a little-understood job to do.
“This reminds me of Fallujah, being in a remote area with a tight family,” said Aaron Hernandez, a former Marine who served as a diesel mechanic in the Iraqi city during a bloody assault in 2004. “There were 10 mechanics, and we all lived together, we all ate together, we all worked together. That was what kept us going.”
Only about 300 veterans have been a part of this program so far, but it's easy to imagine many more joining up if the government—ahem, Senator Patty Murray, Chair of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs—made a point of encouraging them to do so on a larger scale.
"You’re out here in the middle of nowhere,” a 26-year-old veteran told the Times. “It gives you time to reflect. You don’t have to deal with all the chaos in society."
Mental space, money, and a comforting kind of regimentation and camaraderie for the veterans. Better trails and improved park safety for civilians. Very little cost to anyone involved. More like this, please, America.