In 2014, Veterans R&R formed the R&R Outdoors program as a way to engage veterans, provide an opportunity to take part in fun outdoor activities, spend time with peers and friends and learn about other ways that Veterans R&R can serve them.
If you served or are currently serving in the Armed Forces congratulations you are part of the 1% of the United States that signed a check due and payable for your life.
In 2014, Veterans R&R conducted a pilot test to potentially launch a program with a mission of engaging veterans, active duty service members and their immediate families through outdoor activities. Our first events included hunting and fishing outings. The overwhelming response was amazing and so Veterans R&R Outdoors Program was officially launched.
Our Outdoors Program is designed to provide veterans with an exhilarating, challenging and rewarding outdoors experience while connecting them to other veterans, active duty service members, military families, as well as professionals in the civilian sector.
Based on our own experiences and the results of our pilot these outings helped bolster confidence, self esteem and provide struggling veterans with the hope that they can live active and productive lives. Therapists have termed this “social reintegration”.
The suicide rate for veterans is roughly double the rate of those who never served. The VA’s National Center for PTSD reports that as many as 20 percent of Iraqi and Enduring Freedom veterans and as many as 30 percent of Vietnam Veterans suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
As of 2014, 24 US Military veterans or active duty service members per day commit suicide. That is up from 22 in 2012.
Studies have proven that connected veterans are far less likely to take their own lives.
As we grow, R&R Outdoors will expand to include a variety of activities designed with the same goal in mind, and that is to bring veterans, active duty, military families and caring civilian professionals together in a stress-free environment to connect with one another.
What have we done?
- 3rd Annual Fleet Fishing Excursion – R&R was able to successfully host its 3rd annual Lake Michigan fishing trip out of the Great Lakes Marina on June 18, 2016. We had roughly 45 vets out on 9 professional charter fishing boats. Thanks to Bob and Tim from Battalion 1 Sport Fishing Charters and Doug and Keegan from the Great Lakes Marina!
- Fishing on the Chain– In a partnership with the Fox Lake American Legion we were able to battle the heat on July 23rd and entertain a group consisting of wheelchair bound vets as well as a couple active duty sailors.
- Lake Michigan Sport Fishing – Battalion 1 Charters and their professional guides took us out 18 miles to find fish! A Korean War Navy vet, a Beirut, Lebanon Marine vet, and a Desert Storm Marine vet all hooked into some fish and had a good time!
- Chicago White Sox game – R&R, in cooperation with the James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center, Wauconda American Legion Post 911 and the Chicago White Sox, entertained 20 veterans at US Cellular Field September 11th vs. the World Champion Kansas City Royals.
- Chicago Cubs game – Armed Forces Night, August 31, 2016. R&R provided tickets and transportation for 5 active duty marines, 10 active duty sailors and 5 veterans. And the Cubs Won!!
- Pat Harrison Outdoors Fishing Trip – Captain Pat Harrison hosted a unique downtown Chicago fishing experience for 3 lucky military veterans!
- K-Hill’s Rack and Spur Hunts – President Jim Welch and Outdoors Director Dan Cahill have hosted every year several veterans on Private Deer, Turkey and Waterfowl Hunts since 2014.
- MWR Ice Fishing Trip – The R&R ice fishing guides entertained 10 on the hard water on Bangs Lake. Enough fish caught to feed the crew. Fun time!
- Combat Veterans Ice Fishing on Lake Winnebago- We were honored to host 8 combat veterans on Lake Winnebago for a day of ice fishing, followed by dinner. Fishing was slow but that didn’t stop us from having a good time. Great group!
- Wild Game Dinner We hosted our 1st annual wild game dinner, featuring the talents of our own Chef Aaron from Middleton’s in Wauconda. Our feast included wild boar, duck, and salmon. Thank you to the Wauconda American Legion for the venue!
- Lake Thunderhead Crappie Fishing- The Veterans R&R Outdoors crew traveled to Unionville, MO to play host to 3 of our military veterans. We caught over 1,000 crappies! A memorable trip by all. Huge “Thank You” to Nick and Cindy Jacobsen for providing the cabin and hospitality!
- Annual Fleet Fishing Excursion- In June we hosted our largest fishing outing, 54 veterans enjoyed a great day of fishing! The pics speak for themselves
- Green Bay Walleye Trip- R&R headed north for a day of walleye fishing. The trip got cut short due to high seas but still bonded with our brothers.
We are always looking for new ideas. If you have an idea for an event please reach out to us. Organizations like us survive on volunteers and devoted supporters focused on the mission. If you would like to help make a difference in a someone’s life please contact us directly. -Ryan Jacobsen / Program Director