Outward Bound for Veterans: An Open Letter

This is an open letter to the donors of the Outward Bound Veterans Programs.

I am a 72 year old U.S. Marine veteran of the Vietnam War, I have been granted 100% disability by the Veterans Administration which 70% is from PTSD.  I have suffered from this syndrome for the past 50 years. The 26 months that I spent in a combat zone took its toll on me.

There has been much press on PTSD over the last 10 years almost like it was a new medical discovery, but believe me it is a by product of every war form the beginning of time.  About 6 months after my release from active duty in December of 1968 I started to have nightmares and flashback about my combat activities. During the day I would find my self back in Vietnam triggered by sounds, smells and by just not having my consecration on a subject I would drift back to Vietnam. It became a nightly routine of returning to the fight, incoming rockets the piercing sounds of F4 Phantoms taking off or returning from sorties. The surrealistic sights of flares being dropped over the Da Nang Air Base every night all night.

There has been less than a handful of weeks in my adult life that I have been free of these flashbacks and two of those times were Outward Bound Veterans Programs I had the pleasure of taking part in.
This year I was in the wilderness of the Delaware Water Gap.  I was amazed at my surroundings during the 6 days, my mind was opened to what my forefathers had to overcome in the 1630’s and how hard it must have been to survive and tame this wild country of ours. I also look at the little things that my relatively comfortable life offers much differently now.  My relationships with my wife and children will now take a new direction and purpose.

Both my mind and my body were challenged during the program, the comradely of the 6 Veterans who attended the adventure with me along with their help by taking up the slack for this senior aged Vet was very rewarding and helpful in my completing the course.  Our instructors for the course were extremely knowledgeable of our surroundings and the goals of Outward Bound.

In my estimation the veteran programs offered by Outward Bound are superior to what other organizations offer.  They have opened their programs to all veterans regardless of being disabled or not, peace time service or combat conflict.  Many other programs are post 9/11 which covers only a small portion of the veteran population.

In closing I can’t thank you enough for helping me escape the horrors of war and please, please be aware that your donations to Outward Bound change lives, gives hope and may even save a life or two.

God bless.
Lew Breese
Naperville, Illinois