14 London Street, Andover, Hampshire, SP10 2PA
About Veterans In Action
1. Outreach Component
Outreach Work is facilitated via a range of events undertaken with the primary aim of identifying potential service users and is carried out by VIA volunteers, many of whom joined our ranks as clients. Memberships, are solely dependent on service and therein open to all Armed Forces Personnel, Veterans and their dependants. Our outreach agenda rests on a range of community based activities designed as suggested, to identify potential service users and further develop a sense of belonging and camaraderie within our existing membership.
The key to our success in relation to identifying potential members focuses on the deployment and development of a community presence, thus being seen in the community as helping agents, each a Veteran, each with similar life-experience, enhancing opportunities for initial contact to be facilitated. In order to create an authentic base to our services we overtly employ fundraising as a key activity, designed to attract those in need, whilst enabling volunteers to purposefully contribute to their organisation.
Fundraising also offers a real sense of participation, which demands a degree of both mutual cooperation and responsibility to our community. From the point where an individual has been identified, members of our regional teams will establish and maintain contact with the Veteran, offering home-visits and further opportunities to participate in the activities of the organisation. Participation facilitates our need to create an enabling platform, offering the Veteran an opportunity to modify existing behaviours and begin to develop in a sense, a more optimistic outlook through participation, integration, and affiliation.
In essence, we seek to restore notions of self-respect, confidence, trust, and the self-reliance Veterans would have developed whilst in service. The initial work undertaken centres on life and communication skills, leading to more complex work focused on personal growth and community engagement. Essentially, we ensure support is offered throughout the period of restoration, from service user to proactive team member and on to valued member of society.
2. Adventurous Activities Component
Adventure Therapy centres the creation of learning opportunities designed to enabling self-exploration to occur within an unknown environment through the pursuit of adventurous activities. We conduct such activities in group situations, through traditional outdoor activities; "increasingly adventure therapy is being used with individuals who experience confidence problems often resulting in social isolation" (Parker, 1992; Ziven, 1988).
Adventure Therapy (AT) approaches the psychosocial treatment of Veterans via the development of existing knowledge in tandem with the practical accomplishments gained following preset tasks of varying difficulty. At the centre of these mutually supportive activities lie elements of trust activities, problem solving, a sense of adventure, and outdoor activity. We believe that the AT event must centre on real notions of physical achievement and to a degree hardship, which will in turn enhance levels of participant authenticity as a result of such perceived challenges and effort.
Our challenges have been designed to provoke appropriate amounts of effort based on individual ability, but more importantly, through group participation elicit the desired behavioural change. We contend that where positive behaviours are evidenced resulting from an activity, that such change can be linked to a degree with the restoration of more positive notions of self. Therein transference of learning from a specific concrete experience can be relocated to other local settings and the activities of daily life.
Establishing lucid connections between the activities undertaken in the outdoor environment and local or home setting is enabled through the 'structure of framing and delivery of activity' (Bacon, 1983; Gillis, 2000; Parker, 1992). Framing is in essence concerned with the creation of hypothetical situation, expressed as tasks, or a series of activities that relate to a targeted personal difficulty in an effort to confront and work through the problem in a safe and supported environment.
Each task includes a period of debriefing, which for many is a familiar process; the experience being discussed either during or after the event has taken place. Such activity compliments frontloading wherein the opportunity to concentrate on the pros and cons of a given activity and individual or group performance, can become established practice (Weinberg, 2002). Frontloading seriously diminishes the individuals need to bottle up concerns or antipathy at an early stage, thus complimenting group cohesion, the individuals sense of inclusion and sense of importance as an empowered "team" member.
Adventure Therapy encompasses a variety of techniques, operationalised in an equally diverse variety of environments, conceived in order to elicit change. These might include team sport, problem solving scenarios, confidence-building activities, and a range of adventurous training pursuits such as rock climbing, abseiling, or mountaineering; and more protracted expedition work typified by hill walking expeditions, canoeing, sailing and so forth (Gass, 1993; Itin, 1995) conducted over longer periods.
Adventure Therapy in the form of expeditions and walks requiring camping are the most common forms of adventure therapy (Gass, 1993), which as an organisation, we have developed in parallel with fund raising events. Thus enabling local veterans from one locale to meet and discuss the organisation and its merits with individuals from other areas of the UK, already embarked on their own expeditions.
The ethical principles underpinning the work of VIA centre on notions of respect, for self and others, preservation of dignity through examples of appropriate behaviour and through communicating confidence and trust in each of its members. Being a part of a community is central to the human experience thus, we seek to enrich the lives of veterans through the familiar themes of affiliation, and service, striving to create a sense of cohesion between the individual, organisation, and broader society.
We believe that by operationalising or values through an ethos of authentic interaction that we might enable the disaffected to reengage with the activities of daily life as both individuals and team members. Therein we seek to enable veterans to redefine their social-selves through the development of existing skills and by introducing them to the notion that they are each unique individuals with their own strengths and competences the deployment of which we encourage within a variety of social settings.