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Montana WILD and VA program helps veterans recover from PTSD, substance abuse

Posted at 8:31 PM, Nov 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-18 23:15:44-05

A Helena-based program is gaining national attention for its work helping veterans with PTSD.

The Montana Veterans Affairs Residential Rehabilitation Treatment Program has teamed up with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks and Montana WILD.

They provide veterans an opportunity to learn about animal rehab, which in turn helps the veterans in their own rehab process.

The program has been running for eight years now, and more than 1,000 veterans have participated.

They learn about different birds of prey, their characteristics and how they can help the injured raptors return to a normal life.

Now, the program is being recognized as a positive treatment option.

A 2014 study revealed over seventy percent of the veterans who completed the program saw overall improvement with anxiety, stress, and motivation.

"What we found so special about the program is that we were able to see this connection that was happening with the vets, with our wildlife, with our state's wildlife. In this case it was raptors, but even in that process, we had many of the vets that came through our center that were passionate about bighorn sheep, or they found their connection to some other wildlife or the story that we're telling here," said Laurie Wolf, Montana WILD Education Bureau Chief.

Leaders say they have veterans taking part in this program twice a week, throughout the year.