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Vail Veterans Program

Since 2004, Vail Veterans Program has been transforming the lives of military injured and their families by providing innovative, outdoor therapeutic and rehabilitative programs that encourage healthy recovery, personal growth, and the building of lifelong communities of mutual support

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OUR MISSION CONTINUES

Class

Human Services 

Beneficiaries

Families
Military
People/Families with of People with Physical Disabilities
People/Families with of People with Psychological Disabilities
Veterans

Description

In navigating these uncertain times, Vail Veterans Program is committed now more than ever to enhance the health and well-being of wounded veterans and their families. We must never forget the service and sacrifice of these brave men and women who have given so much to our great country. In light of COVID-19 Vail Veterans Program launched a pilot program called, OUR MISSION CONTINUES. This offering will provide novel ways to support veterans, caregivers, families and patients of our partner military hospitals in their communities. The vision of OUR MISSION CONTINUES is to offer direct grant awards in the following categories:

-Emergency Financial Assistance
-Mental Health Support
-Health & Wellness
-Military Caregiver Support
-Educational Opportunities
-Pay it Forward
-Family Experiences

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Evidence of Program's Success

Program participants are surveyed within one month post program culmination. OUR MISSION CONTINUES survey results depict powerful, positive program impacts, including:

100% of participants reported having a low-stress level
100% reported having good communication with family
100% of participants reported having confidence
100% of participants reported having hope for the future
100% of participants reported being able to face new challenges
92% of participants reported a positive outlook on life

Virtual Programming

Class

Human Services 

Beneficiaries

Families
Military
People/Families with of People with Disabilities
Veterans

Description

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as an expressed interest from VVP alumni for continued support after program culmination, VVP has begun working closely with partner professionals in health and wellness to offer Virtual Programming for our participants from across the nation, at no cost. We have partnered with professionals in nutrition, mental health, and financial services, as well as fitness instructors, chefs and meditation gurus. We have also developed Vail Vets Epic Insights, which gives our veterans the opportunity to ask Psychologist, Dr. Carrie Elk, anonymous questions to provide mental health support during this challenging time. This new program has been both meaningful and well-received by our program alumni and will continue beyond the COVID crisis.

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Evidence of Program's Success

- 85% of Virtual Programming recipients reported that this program is relevant and useful
- 81% of recipients reported that this program is easy to implement

Resilience Training

Class

Human Services 

Beneficiaries

At-Risk Populations
Disabled
Military
Veterans

Description

Resilience Training is a follow-up course to Veterans Path to Success, hosted in Vail, CO and led by a Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute coach. This training allows participants to approach stress management in an innovative and proactive way. Instead of avoiding stressful situations, participants learn how to strategically manage stress and plan for adequate recovery in order to increase resiliency. The Resiliency Training provides participants with tools to embrace stress and use it to their advantage as a tactic to maximize performance.

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Evidence of Program's Success

Program participants are surveyed within one month post-program culmination. 2019 Resilience Training survey results depict powerful, positive program impacts, including:

-100% learned skills and techniques to recover from episodes of stress
-91% felt the course was 'extremely' personally relevant
- 90% feel more prepared to achieve their personal mission
- 82% achieved personal goals that included to revisit stress management techniques, connect with peers, define purpose, reinvigorate desire to achieve goals)
- 73% felt the course was 'extremely' personally meaningful

"The Resilience Training couldn't have come at a better time for me. After attending this past week, I feel more confident than ever. I know that there are going to be obstacles, setbacks, and even failures that I'm going to endure, but I now understand that those will just make me a stronger man than I already am. The training has reminded me that I'm working on making a better me and that it's not going to be an easy task. I am so thankful for the opportunity given to me from the Vail Veterans Program, donors, and supporters and I hope to be able to give back in any possible way that I can." - Retired Navy Chief Gunners Mate Justin Greenlund, 2019 Resilience Training Participant

Family Support Programs

Class

Human Services 

Beneficiaries

At-Risk Populations
Disabled
Families
Military
People/Families with of People with Physical Disabilities

Description

Black Mountain Ranch:
VVP partners with Black Mountain Colorado Dude Ranch in McCoy, CO to host individual alumni families for a week of western fun, relaxation, and healing in a safe and comfortable environment. This weeklong, all-inclusive family vacation is customized to your family and includes a stay in a spacious cabin. Activities offered at the ranch range from the adventurous to the connective and include fly fishing, horseback riding, whitewater rafting, backcountry camping, and much more. From cattle roping to singing songs around a campfire, families will create
lifelong memories.

Red Box Legacy:
This weeklong, all-inclusive family trip is customized to a VVP alumni family in need. Activities offered range from the adventurous to the educational. From surf lessons and zip-lining to dolphin encounters and a visit to the USS Arizona Memorial, families reconnect and create lifelong memories

Other Family Support Programs:
VVP invites alumni families in crisis to Vail, CO at no cost throughout the year. VVP also includes VVP alumni at a variety of fundraising and invitational events (i.e. golf tournaments, concerts, professional sports games, etc.).

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Evidence of Program's Success

Golf In The Rockies

Class

Recreation & Sports 

Beneficiaries

Disabled
Military
Veterans

Description

Golf is more than just a sport for so many wounded Service Members. Golf enhances rehabilitation by providing a unique opportunity for camaraderie and for the development of healthy coping mechanisms. Golf allows veterans to build a lifelong skill set that includes concentration, focus, emotional stability, balance, and coordination - skills that are relevant to all other facets of life. Through Golf In The Rockies, wounded veterans benefit from five days of an unforgettable golf experience. Participants play several championship golf courses, attend golf clinics provided by PGA teaching professionals, and bond with other veterans through group meals and evening activities. Golf In The Rockies encourages participants to build relationships with others over a shared passion. Participants in this program depart Vail with an improved golf game and a newly developed community of mutual support.

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Evidence of Program's Success

- 100% of participants at the 2019 Golf Program achieved their personal goals (including to Connect with other veterans, have a stress-free, fun experience, experience physical and emotional healing, and to improve recreational skills)
- 100% of participants set new goals after the program
- 100% of participants would attend a VVP program again
- 100% of participants would recommend the Golf Program to a peer


"After deployment I had survivors guilt and had lost all motivation. I was depressed, I lost my sense of pride, and was unsure of my purpose. The week with Vail Veterans Program was special and there is not a lot that I can compare it to. The connections I made during the Golf Program are priceless. It is a breath of fresh air to have met people that know what I have been through and it allowed me to talk about my experiences and what I am left feeling. The members were all inviting and I am taking home knowledge and coaching of a game that I love. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for this experience." - Holden Smith, US Marine Corps, 2019 Golf In The Rockies Participant

Military Caregiver Retreats and Reunion

Class

Human Services 

Beneficiaries

Adults
At-Risk Populations
Military
People/Families with of People with Disabilities
People/Families with of People with Physical Disabilities

Description

At the Military Caregiver Retreat, caregivers of wounded Veterans connect with others experiencing similar challenges, gain sustainable tools to incorporate into their daily lives, and relax and rejuvenate in a safe and comfortable environment. This program focuses on health and wellness through offering therapeutic and educational activities including yoga, meditation, empowerment training, outdoor adventures, and group meals

The Military Caregiver Reunion is a follow-up to the Military Caregiver Retreat. Participants return to Vail to take part in a Resilience Training workshop with trainers from the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute. Resilience Training prepares military caregivers to approach stress management in an innovative and proactive way.

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Evidence of Program's Success

Caregivers Retreat participants are surveyed within one month after program culmination. Survey results from the 2019 Caregivers Retreats depict powerful, positive program effects, including:

VVP measures long and short-term impacts of program events through pre- and post-program qualitative and quantitative surveys. VVP surveyed program participants for the 2019 Military Caregiver Retreats and key results included:

-100% achieved the goals set for themselves which included connecting with other Military Caregivers, a stress-free, fun experience, learning new coping mechanisms, and emotional healing
-100% set new goals for themselves
-100% have a "great" or "almost perfect" outlook on life
-85% report "moderate" or "high" confidence
-71% are "very likely" to try new things
-57% report having "very good" or "exceptional" communication with their families

"There are very few organizations that embrace the uniqueness that is the caregiver role and help find ways to support us becoming a better partner, caregiver, and mother. Vail Veterans Program has the best program in the nation for caregivers. The bond you form with fellow caregivers who understand our walk of life is a soul awakening experience. As a caregiver we often neglect ourselves, and when you are not taking care of yourself, you can't fully take care of someone else. The Military Caregiver Reunion gives us the ability to come back into our world with renewed energy and renewed perspective." - Pam Frustaglio, Caregiver to a Wounded Veteran, 2019 Military Caregiver Reunion Participant

"I am not sure a few sentences could ever adequately describe my experience at the Vail Veterans Program Caregivers Retreat. Not only did I meet 13 other amazing women, but the events were designed so that we would get to know each other better. I can honestly say I walked away with 13 new friends. I felt empowered by the information and thoroughly enjoyed the instruction that went along with it. I am not quite sure how you've done it, but I feel that what VVP has is the most beneficial information and soul-filling events and people I've encountered. Anyone in my position would be lucky to attend the program." - Kathleen Harris Causey, Caregiver to Wounded Veteran



Veterans Path to Success

Class

Human Services 

Beneficiaries

Adults
Military/Veterans
Disabled
People/Families with of People with Disabilities
People/Families with of People with Psychological Disabilities

Description

The Vail Veterans Program recognizes the unique challenges faced by wounded . veterans transitioning to civilian life post military service. In partnership with Johnson & Johnson's Human Performance Institute (HPI) in Orlando, FL, Vail Veterans Program offers the Veterans Path to Success (VPTS) training program. Veterans are guided in acknowledging their "old" story, while defining their "new" story and personal mission statement for future success outside of the military. The program provides training on performance psychology, exercise physiology, and nutrition. Participants learn how to manage and expand their energy in order to sustain increased engagement, performance, and resiliency. This three-day training program equips veterans with practical and applicable behavioral tools to commence a process of healing and growing.

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Evidence of Program's Success

Veterans Path to Success program participants are surveyed within four weeks after attending the program, and again within 3 months after program culmination. Survey results from 2019 depict powerful, positive program effects, including:

-100% achieved their goals set prior to program attendance which include learning how to better manage personal energy, connecting with other injured Veterans, defining one's personal mission, modifying exercise routine, modifying diet, exploring new recreational possibilities
-100% feel better prepared to achieve their new personal mission as defined during the program
-100% would recommend the program to other wounded Veterans
-100% felt the course was personally relevant
-97% felt the course was personally meaningful

"Vail Veterans Program has had a tremendous impact on me personally and on my life since leaving the military. This past week I was afforded a unique opportunity to grow and heal. Of all of my years of service, I have never taken the time to be introspective, to look inside myself for what I want to be. The Veterans Path to Success program was amazing! I came away with a solid plan to attack two demons within. I have a new-found group of friends with shared passions. I have more confidence in myself and my ability to go after challenges that I have allowed to hold me down and in place. I am regaining a level of physical activity I have not had in years and my returned belief in myself has been infectious at home. VVP has an incredible grasp of Veteran's issues and needs. Thank you for taking care of my health and wellness which
was greatly diminished over my years of service." - Retired Marine Corps Colonel Bruce Pitman, 2019 Veterans Path to Success Participant

Winter Family Program & Winter Mountain Adventure Program

Class

Recreation & Sports 

Beneficiaries

Disabled
Military/Veterans
Families
People/Families with of People with Disabilities
Veterans

Description

At the Winter Family Program, up to 25 wounded veterans and 65 family members will benefit from four full days of snow sports lessons with Professional Ski & Snowboard Instructors of America. Veterans will work one-on-one with the Vail Adaptive Ski & Snowboard School to achieve their personal goals. Family members will be fit with equipment rentals and grouped with peers of similar age and skill level for group lessons. Through the group setting, military families will benefit from socialization opportunities, developing relationships with others on a similar life journey. Program participants will enjoy scheduled group meals and evening activities, including snow tubing, snow biking, and a bowling night. Participants will depart Vail feeling reinvigorated and inspired, with a community of mutual support.

The Winter Mountain Adventure provides up to 35 wounded veterans and their spouses/caregivers with four days of private, full-day adaptive ski/snowboard instruction. PSIA and AASI certified adaptive instructors meet the extensive needs of wounded veterans by providing specialized equipment and four full-days of one-on-one tailored coaching. Group meals and evening activities are carefully constructed to strengthen relationships with peers, while building mentorship opportunities.

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Evidence of Program's Success

Winter Program participants are surveyed within one month after program culmination. Survey results from 2020 Winter Programs depict powerful, positive program impacts, including:

100% of wounded veterans and family members achieved their personal goals which included bonding with family, physical rehabilitation, emotional healing, a stress-free & fun experience, connecting with other veterans.
100% created a new community of mutual support
98% have more confidence in themselves
98% have a more positive outlook on life
95.5% developed stronger coping mechanisms
84% set new goals for the future

"After I understood the extent of my injuries, I realized that I might not make it out of this alive, and I wasn't certain if it would be a life worth living, with a body worth living in. There was so much that I still wanted to do and so many people to live for. I decided to try what others referred to as 'adaptive sports' such as volleyball and horseback riding which proved unfulfilling. When I came to Vail Veterans Program, I tried mono skiing and for the first time since being injured, I felt an adrenal rush and felt alive. Thank God I did. I found a family of people and friends that I still network with. This is a special community and the entire town takes part in this. I cannot thank you enough for what you have done for my family and I." - Retired US Army Captain, Greg Galeazzi, 2020 Winter Family Program Participant

"This program is a lifeline. It wasn't just a lifeline for the disabled vets that are struggling with depression and needed to get out, or those struggling with their rehab and trying to explore new hobbies, it is also a lifeline to those disabled vets who needed to meet other injured service members and connect with them. I met some of the best people on this trip who I had an instant connection with because they were going through the same experiences I was. The staff at Vail Vets were humble and very accepting of us. They taught us that even though some of us are missing limbs, burned, or injured in other fashions, we have the same abilities as others. They gave us a task that inspired confidence in ourselves. I will be forever grateful for this opportunity." - U.S. Army Specialist, Seffron Boyle, 2020 Winter Mountain Adventure Participant

Summer Family Program

Class

Recreation & Sports 

Beneficiaries

Disabled
Military/Veterans
Families
People/Families with of People with Disabilities
Veterans

Description

At the Summer Family Program, up to 25 wounded veterans and 65 family members and partner military hospital staff from across the nation will benefit from four-days of therapeutic recreational activities in the healing Rocky Mountains. Adaptive adventures will include rock climbing, whitewater rafting, horseback riding, flying over a canyon on a zip line, mountain biking, and fly-fishing, as well as group meals and evening activities (bowling and a pool party). A Family Wellness Day will offer yoga, meditation, and acupuncture, as well as mountaintop activities. Through this program, participants will have the opportunity heal together, reconnect with family, build lifelong friendships, and learn healthy coping mechanisms that will long outlast the duration of the event.

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Evidence of Program's Success

Summer Program participants are surveyed within one month after program culmination. Survey results from 2019 depict powerful, positive program effects, including:

-100% of Veterans reportedly achieved their goals; reconnect with family, a stress-free & fun experience, connect with other Veterans, emotional healing, and improve recreational skills
-100% of family members reportedly achieved their goals; Reconnect with family, a stress-free & fun experience, connect with other families, emotional healing, and improve recreational skills
-100% have more confidence in themselves
-100% have a more positive outlook on life
-100% developed stronger coping mechanisms
-100% developed a new community of mutual support
-85% set new goals for the future

"The Vail Veterans Program opened their heart to us and enabled our family to start the process of breaking through the silence and initiate emotional healing. The program so effortlessly accomplished this by offering a safe and protected environment to not only have fun, but also encouraged us to let our guard down and share our experiences amongst other families who are going through similar journeys. For many years I had felt isolated in our experience. I did not find many resources for what the family was going through and often times it felt like a stigma. My healing started when I was able to talk with other spouses, partners, and caregivers about our experience and the realization I was not alone. I did not realize how necessary this was in my own healing process. I left the program with a sense of both community and connection with other families and support systems, along with memories that will last a lifetime. Our nine-year-old son told me for the first time that he would like to seek counseling to discuss his feelings. For a nine-year-old to articulate his emotional needs after everything we have gone through, brought me to tears. Thank you for working with our children not to only take their minds off their parent's injuries and have fun, but also helping them understand that they need healing too. Thank you for dedicating your program to the healing of the whole family and understanding that families come in all shapes and sizes." - Anne Bruschi-Fernandez, Caregiver to Chief Petty Officer Leonel Fernandez, 2019 Summer Family Program Participnt

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