Wellness Achieved Through Evidenced-Based Recreational Services, also known as W.A.T.E.R.S. is a nonprofit organization that was created by a collaboration of mental health care professionals and dedicated volunteers who have been involved in evidenced-based recreational services for veterans for many years. By recognizing the need for raising the level of research, understanding and education in this area, they have embarked on the task of putting on workshops and conferences to provide training to VA staff, mental health providers and community-based volunteers. After attending these events, participants will be better prepared to assist veterans with disabilities in recreational activities so that they can better meet the challenges that they face each day.
W.A.T.E.R.S. main mission is to develop educational and experiential programs to address rehabilitation of trauma victims through the use of evidence-based recreational services. They also expand the understanding of issues surrounding post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and other physical, emotional and cognitive conditions connected with trauma. W.A.T.E.R.S. offers workshops that include research and training to professionals and volunteers in recreational activities to insure the safety and well-being of participants who benefit from these programs as a part of their rehabilitation and therapy.
While W.A.T.E.R.S. does not provide recreational therapy, they do offer education and training through their organization to professionals and volunteers who want to provide services to trauma victims and are dedicated to the idea of raising the quality of those organizations.
As veterans are returning home from war, they are facing serious challenges including PTSD, TBI and other impairments. If untreated, these conditions often lead to additional mental health and physical conditions, relationship difficulties, unemployment, homelessness and suicide. Recent research suggests the need for services beyond the VA to support rehabilitation of veterans. In addition to professional organizations, local communities need to improve veterans’ access to quality services and utilize treatments to support reintegration and recovery.
Through the therapeutic benefits of various recreational endeavors, veterans participate in recreational activities that address PTSD and TBI and impacts adjustment and community reintegration.
W.A.T.E.R.S. provides these education and training opportunities to veterans, VA personnel, community mental health providers, occupational therapists, and non-profit volunteers. Their training programs enhance the skills required to address the needs of veterans and all members of our military family including active duty, reserve, guard, spouses, children, etc. This training creates greater expertise in “mental health first aid,” that many veterans, including those with PTSD, TBI, and substance use will benefit from.
Based on their experience, the relationships that is developed among the participants, volunteers and VA staff have encouraged and supported veterans to become involved in unaggressive community activities. In comparison to the traumatic experiences of warfare, recreational activities, such as kayaking, rock climbing and fly fishing, create a calming and healing situation while pursuing a goal which releases the trauma victim from the immediacy of the symptoms of PTSD, TBI and other emotional or mental issues.
To learn more about W.A.T.E.R.S. visit http://watersorg.org.