Veterans’ outings flourish

By Terry Owen, Military Outdoors Program

The Sierra Club Military Outdoors Program met its objective of encouraging and enabling more military veterans and their families to get outside.

The program is designed as a way for active duty and former military to reconnect with each other and with the land that they fought to protect. New Mexico has a rich military tradition, as shown by the higher-than-average number of veterans at just under 10 percent, as compared to the rest of the U.S. at under 8 percent.

While the focus is on military veterans, everyone is welcome, and no matter their background, participants consistently state that it’s a way for them to enjoy nature in a safe and welcoming environment.

Active-duty military, veterans, their families and those who’ve never served in the military joined for a wide range of activities in 2017. This year’s outings included climbing a 14er in Colorado, hiking to a local spring and resort dating from the 1900s, and tackling the tallest peak in New Mexico to honor those who’ve sacrificed their lives since 9/11.

By far the most popular outing was a history tour of downtown Albuquerque with more than 15 participants. A collaboration with the Albuquerque Historical Society, this easy and fun trek down Central Avenue provided a fascinating look at the events that have shaped Albuquerque’s architecture, policies and infrastructure.

2018 will be another fantastic year for all of us to get outside, get engaged with our environment and focus on the protection of our natural world. Planned outings include an introduction to snowshoeing and nordic skiing, a team effort with the Kirtland Air Force Base Outdoor Recreation program; an exploration of the Sandia Wilderness Area; a historical tour of Old Town; and several challenging hikes of 12,000- to 14,000-foot peaks.

We hope you’ll join us! For more information, contact Terry Owen at 505-301-4349, or teowen@q.com.

Featured image by Terry Owen.

Veterans’ outings flourish