Army Program Offers Recreation Outlet for Combat-tested Soldiers
By Ken White
Special to American Forces Press Service
HEIDELBERG, Germany, Jan. 28, 2009 The first of about 8,000 soldiers began cycling through Installation Management Command Europe's high-adventure, adrenaline-pumping Warrior Adventure Quest recreation program earlier this month.
Marc Jarvis, U.S. Army Garrison Ansbach, Germany, assists soldiers with ski selection during a test run of Installation Management Command Europe's Warrior Adventure Quest program, Jan. 12, 2009. The one-day event took about 30 soldiers and a handful of garrison staff members for a day of Alpine skiing and snowshoeing. U.S. Army photo by Jim Hughes
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The U.S. Army Europe troops recently returned from deployments with the 2nd Striker Cavalry Regiment, the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade and the 1st Armored Division.
"This amazing program combines leadership training with lifetime leisure-skill development by exposing soldiers to activities such as paintballing, ski touring, snowboarding, ski rappelling, rock climbing, mountain biking, high ropes courses, canoeing and even bungee jumping," Kelly Nebel, outdoor recreation program manager for IMCOM Europe, said.
Small, platoon-sized groups of soldiers, based in Germany with Ansbach's 12th CAB and Vilseck's 2nd SCR, began participating in intensive, one-day activities at various German sites as part of an initiative designed to help troops readapt to a "new normal" after returning from combat duty. Members of Wiesbaden's 1st AD will begin cycling through the program in February.
Grafenwoehr is hosting the largest number of participants in the overall servicewide program.
Warrior Adventure Quest signifies the Army's full commitment to helping soldiers effectively transition from a combat to home-station environment during the 90-day period after redeploying and completing block leave, officials said. It does so by combining existing outdoor recreation activities with “Battlemind,” the Army's psychological resiliency building program. As part of the Battlemind blueprint, Soldiers hold group discussions after each outing, sharing their thoughts on the experience as well as being home.
During the program, participants are exposed to one of a number of high-adventure activities depending on location and time of year.
"Plus, it aims to spark a long-term interest in soldiers to pursue lifelong, positive outlets for their energies and to relieve stress and anxiety," Nebel said. "By doing so, we hope to discourage soldiers from engaging in risky choices -- which some do in an effort to amplify adrenaline levels they may have grown accustomed to in the combat environment -- during their everyday lives."
(Ken White serves in the Installation Management Command Europe public affairs office.)