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Dream Adaptive offers therapy weekends for veterans

The Daily Inter Lake - 1/23/2019

Jan. 23--Print Article

A unique opportunity to engage in "play therapy," Dream Adaptive Recreation Veteran ski and snowboard weekends at Whitefish Mountain Resort give disabled veterans premium access to Big Mountain powder on Jan. 26 and 27, Feb. 23 and 24 and March 16 and 17.

The event offers both active duty military and veterans with disabilities lift tickets, adaptive instructors, individual ski and snowboard lessons, equipment rentals and lunch, all free of charge, thanks to a $30,000 grant through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Aimed at promoting rehabilitation, quality of life and community reintegration, the weekends provide outlets for sharing stories, establishing friendships and enjoying the outdoors.

"The main focus is readjustment to the community from military life and to have the support to try new things," said Larry Cannon, veteran outreach specialist at the Kalispell Vet Center. "Participants of Dream find new enjoyment and new connection. We can do only so much on the clinical side. When they get out in the community to do something, that's where they find a way to get better. Outdoor sports provide so much for healing."

Participant Jon Devine said the Dream Adaptive programs also give him the chance to relax in the company of fellow veterans with whom he can share his experiences from deployment in an environment he enjoys.

"I didn't want anything to do with the veteran community," Devine said. "But when my therapist mentioned snowboarding, that was the way to get me talking."

Last year, Hans Freeman, a disabled veteran with 30 years of active duty service, joined Dream Adaptive as a volunteer.

"I ran into the most incredible people," he said. "With all the choices the volunteers have with their free time, they choose to help children and veterans with disabilities. They wouldn't otherwise be able to do this."

He described the veterans' weekends as fulfilling some of the deepest needs felt by him and many of his fellow veterans.

"One minute you're elite and then something happens and you lose your sense of purpose," Freeman said. "What's most important as a veteran: camaraderie. When participating with Dream, I really get to listen to veterans, and they're back in their element just like in the military. From a personal perspective, it's given me a sense of a second calling and being a part of something bigger than myself."

To enroll in the veteran ski and snowboard weekends, email programs@dreamadaptive.org or call 862-1817.

Reporter Mary Cloud Taylor can be reached at 758-4459 or mtaylor@dailyinterlake.com.

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(c)2019 the Daily Inter Lake (Kalispell, Mont.)

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