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Community need – Why we are doing this
Western New York is home to a large population of veterans; Monroe County alone is home to more than 60,000 veterans (Veterans Administration Data). The wars in Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom, OEF) and Iraq (Operation Iraqi Freedom, OIF) have seen 1.8 million service members deployed in support of its missions. Of the 1.8 million, 594, 000 have been deployed two times, and 20,000 have deployed at least five times (American Psychological Association Presidential Task and Service Members, 2007). This constant redeployment is unique and increases service member’s susceptibility to psychological stressors and physical injury. The current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have a higher number of soldiers surviving war injuries due to successful treatments in the battlefield. Consistent with national rates of 30%, deployed service members from Western New York suffer from musculo-skeletal disabilities. The soldiers are frequently exposed to the use of IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices),

Supporting returning veterans by decreasing isolation and providing support can prevent the downward spiral many veterans face. OASIS will offer a unique service to disabled veterans that will help them achieve a sense of independence and an improved quality of life.
According to an empirical review conducted by the American Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA, 1991), physical activity in the disabled provides multiple positive outcomes. These include improved physical, cognitive, and social health, increased self-confidence, decreased depressive symptomatology, and an increased self-perceived quality of life. Working with an instructor and support person, the veteran will build trust, positive interpersonal relationships and develop camaraderie. All of these are needed to increase self esteem, support positive social skills and support the continuing transition to mainstream life.
and as a consequence there is an increase in Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI). 10-20% of veterans returning from active duty will suffer from TBI (Rand 2008). With many of the soldiers being redeployed, the prevalence of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is higher with 20% of the returning soldiers suffering from this condition (Rand 2008). Many veterans suffer from more than one of these ailments and thus fit the criteria of polytrauma.
In addition, returning veterans also face work related problems, strained marital situations, feelings of isolation and a lack of connection with other veterans who have had similar experiences. Only 20% of veterans who were physically wounded and those with TBI and PTSD seek mental health treatment (Department of Defense, Task Force on Mental Health, 2007).
Current statistics show that one in four homeless people is an American Veterans and 338,000 disabled veterans live in poverty (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs).