Increasing outreach and access to mental health services for veterans is what this local program is all about. On Saturday, they celebrated doing just that at the same place their first event was held 10 years ago.
“The activities we host are therapeutic in themselves, so it helps encourage wellness whether it's physical activity, the bonding with other veterans," said Veterans Outreach coordinator, Gabriel Granados.
Levi Lopez, a United States Airforce veteran, has been a part of the Veterans Outreach Program for five years.
“Coming here being around other veterans, some of us that do have PTSD problems for example in large gatherings, if you know the majority of the people are brothers and sisters of the arms it makes you feel welcomed and you have that at ease that peace of mind that you are in a safe place," said Lopez.
“Veterans Outreach helps our participants also learn about mental health services, so we have a therapist that is a part of our team and attends all of our events and gets to know all of our participants," added Granados.
It is also an opportunity to bring families together.
“For me and my family, we like to do every one each month. We like to be one of the regulars because we like to welcome the new veterans," explained Lopez.
Past events have included ziplining, cooking, horseback riding, paint nights, and hiking. Over the years, the program has served more than 700 veterans throughout the county.
“A big part of our program is helping normalize the conversation about mental health topics that reduce stigma and make sit more likely that our participants will seek services when they need support," said Granados.
The Veterans Outreach Program hopes to hold more free activities for veterans. More information on those events can be found here.