BTN.com LiveBIG Staff, March 19, 2016
During football and basketball games, BTN LiveBIG will spotlight notable examples of research, innovation and community service from around the conference. In-Game stories will provide more background on these features, and the opportunity to view the videos again.
A fortunate confluence of events led to the creation of Terp Vets, the University of Maryland's organization for student veterans.
The university hosted the Outdoor Recreation and Education National Conference in November 2013. That event featured two presenters. One was Joe Mornini, executive director of Team River Runner, a non-profit that aids veterans' transitions into civilian life via adventure recreation - specifically, paddle sports. The second was Lonnie Bedwell, who became the first blind person to kayak the Grand Canyon after serving in the U.S. Navy.
Representatives from two campus organizations saw those presentations: the University Recreation & Wellness Adventure Program and Veteran Student Life. Both groups were informed and inspired by Mornini and Bedwell, and following the conference, members of each discussed how they could work together.
"Hence, this program was created," said Jordan Arata, trip leader for the University Recreation & Wellness Adventure Program and a graduate student majoring in environmental science and policy.
Since Terp Vets began, the organization has led small groups of incoming veteran students on weekend trips for boating and camping, and provided campus tours as well.
"We do a variety of activities to help the veteran participants transition into academic and student life," Arata said.
[btn-post-package]One of the activities held during their weekend trips is setting up a tent, with a twist. The veterans take on this task together, but they're also given one specific limitation. For example, one participant might not be allowed to speak, and another might not be allowed to see. This exercise illustrates that they need to build a support system and communicate to succeed in their foray into civilian life.
Arata said he's happy to play a part in helping Maryland provide a wide range of offerings to serve those who've served all of us.
"It makes me very proud to be part of a university that is so proactive in being able to help anyone who may need it," he added.
By Brian Summerfield