MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. --
Outward Bound offers OIF and OEF veterans an opportunity to enjoy scenic landscapes, engage in challenging physical activities and work through personal issues as a team.
An overview package prepared by Veterans program manager Meg Ryan states the mission of the Outward Bound Veterans Program is to provide veterans the opportunity to work on emotional difficulties that combat-related experiences have caused while they are in a wilderness setting.
Master Gunnery Sgt. Ivor R. Pardee has gone on several trips including the Sequoia National Forest in California and the Colorado Rockies with the group in past years. As an airfield operations staff-noncommissioned officer with Cherry Point’s Air Traffic Control Center, Pardee actively encourages his Marines to take advantage of the program.
“The veterans program is specifically designed for service members who participated in either Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom,” said Pardee, “It doesn’t matter if they are active-duty, National Guard, reservists or retired as long as they served in one or both of those operations.”
One of Pardee’s Marines, Cpl. Derek F. Krause, an ATC operations NCO, took an 8-day sailing trip to Key West Fla. in February. While there, Krause rotated through the various positions on the boat learning the fundamentals of sailing. Krause, however, says he took much more away from the experience than newly acquired skills.
“This program is really one of those diamonds in the rough,” Krause said. “Not many people know it exists. I really enjoyed being around servicemembers from all different branches.
Krause said that participating in the program did not even cost him leave days.
“I was granted permissive temporary assigned duty by Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron to go to Florida,” Krause said. “Anyone hesitant about burning their own leave shouldn’t worry, because most commanding officers do what they can to help Marines take advantage of the program.”
Pardee and Krause both noted how Outward Bound is about veterans working through challenges as a team whether they are challenges faced in the program or otherwise. “Outward Bound is a great way to meet other quality servicemembers,” Krause said “Some people told their life story and how they had dealt with post traumatic stress disorder, but there was never any pressure to do so. Being with people who are all military or former military members made it easier for most of us to disclose things.”
Pardee said the instructors, mostly made up entirely of former and current military members, are top-notch individuals who really care about the veterans they oversee in the program. Krause still receives occasional emails from his former instructors five months after he returned from his trip.
“The instructors are highly qualified, world-class individuals,” Pardee said. They make a habit of leading discussions based on character development and service to country. Seeing all of America’s beauty in some of the locations they take you to really gives veterans an idea of what they’re defending.”
Krause said he looks forward to going back and participating in another adventure with Outward Bound in the near future.
“I can’t wait to go back,” Krause said. “It’s really a once in a lifetime experience. Thankfully, you’re not limited to just going once.”