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The transition from combat to civilian life

By Annie Bishop, KXLY4 Reporter , annieb@kxly.com
Published On: Feb 16 2013 08:38:52 PM CST
The transition from combat to civilian life
SPOKANE, Wash. -

The difficult transition from combat to civilian life is getting easier for local veterans by spending time in the great outdoors.

On Saturday, 30 combat veterans and their families spent the day at 49 Degrees North learning how to snowboard.

The Veterans Outreach Center, Spokane Valley Fire Department and Fire District 8 organized the event.  49 Degrees North donated gear, tickets and lessons.

"For us here in Spokane we have really tried to take advantage being in the outdoors," David Baird with the Vet Center said.

"We are finding, especially with our younger veterans folks that have been to Iraq and Afghanistan different operations . . . they are not open to the traditional treatments of sitting in an office, counseling talking about your feelings and stuff.  Our number one mission at the Vet Center is readjustment and readjustment to civilian life after combat.  And as you can imagine that can be difficult not only for the vet but for the veterans family. So what we are trying to do today is work on that readjustment, that's the underlining goal," Baird added.

Sean Mckeen, 25, served 12 months in Iraq removing improvised explosive devices from roadways.   Mckeen said since he's been back he has a hard time talking to other people his age.

"It's been different," Mckeen said.

"I don't get a long with people my age anymore that's for sure.  I just don't feel like I can talk to people my own age.  So, going to things like this where there's people that have been through similar experiences helps you know, feel like you have someone to hang out with," he added.

After an hour of lessons, Mckeen and several other vets slowly made their way down the mountain.  Organizers hope to get veterans back on the slopes next month.

"And there's no greater treatment for post combat reaction than one veteran helping another," Baird said.

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