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The mission of Blue Diamond Recreation is to provide restorative recreational activities for veterans and families challenged by the effects of war.

Blue Diamond programs are only a means to get the veterans talking and sharing the details of their challenges. It’s not about hunting or hiking - it's about creating conditions that enable these productive conversations. Only through honest dialogue can we learn how to best meet their needs. It’s the only way

to save a life.

We believe that outdoor activities provide physical and spiritual healing.


"The physiological response to being outside in nature is real, and it's measurable," said Michelle Kondo, a research social scientist with the USDA Forest Service's Northern Research Station. "There are many physical and psychological benefits of nature that scientists have observed, which can better help us understand how nature supports wellness in the body, mind and community."


Being outside in green spaces supports an active and healthy lifestyle, which has shown to increase life expectancy, improve sleep quality and reduce cancer risk.


“Many of the benefits afforded to us by green spaces partially result from more opportunities to be active,” said Kondo. “Being in outdoor green spaces can increase a person’s motivation, too.”


Studies also show that being outside in nature is relaxing, reducing our stress, cortisol levels, muscle tension and heart rates – all of which are risk factors for cardiovascular disease.


Along with supporting physical wellness, nature also bolsters mental wellness in the individual.


There are many mental wellness benefits associated with being outside in green spaces, such as lower risk of depression and faster psychological stress recovery. Studies have shown that being in nature can restore and strengthen our mental capacities, increasing focus and attention.


Another major component of mental health is social connection. The outdoors serves as a venue to come together with friends and family and connect with the larger community.


"This togetherness is especially important for us now," said Kondo. "We are finding that isolation is a killer, and that the outdoors really provides that space for us to come together under trees or to walk together along trails."

We believe that loneliness is the core challenge faced by many veterans today.


There has been a wealth of research on the ties between depression and loneliness. In fact, loneliness has been linked to depression perhaps more than any other psychiatric problem. The two are not synonymous, but they interact with one another.


A VA-funded study has addressed that relatively unexplored question. The researchers tried to learn which facets of social connectedness, including loneliness, are linked the most to depression in former service members. Social connectedness refers to relationships and support networks and is vital to a person’s health and self-esteem.


Among five forms of social connectedness, loneliness was tied to the highest levels of depression and suicide ideation, or thoughts of committing suicide, the researchers found. Loneliness was also associated with the lowest levels of patient efforts to manage their health and to seek help.

We believe that relationships of trust take time and should start now.


The Journal of Science and Personal Relationships reports that it takes 50 cumulative hours of hanging out to go from ‘acquaintance’ to ‘friend’, 90 hours to go from ‘friend’ to ‘good friend’, and 200 cumulative hours to become someone’s best friend.


These numbers were found by interviewing 467 people. 255 of them were people that had recently moved, and a further 112 of them were freshmen in college (a prime time for meeting new people). Both study groups were asked over the next 9 weeks how the relationships were progressing, and rough cut-off points were found. 


And, editorially speaking, it’s worth pointing out that face time with people really and truly matters. Say yes to more experiences. Go to a baseball game or a movie. Add those hours up. It might seem corny or coy to some, but putting in “hang time” with your “bros” or just grabbing a coffee or a drink with a new friend can make you a ton happier. Even if you have a busy life, prioritize time face-to-face with people.

We believe that America’s veterans deserve to live long and happy lives in peace.


A veteran suspended civilian life and chose or was compelled into a life of hardship, either for a brief or extended period of time. A veteran gave up an element of self-determination, trading that for what the government calls “needs of the service.” That means going anywhere, anytime, for any reason.


There are currently 17 million veterans living nation-wide and roughly 1.5 million living in Texas. There are 5.5 million veterans living among us who are disabled due to their wounds. Direct medical and disability costs since 2001 exceed $32 billion. 20% of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans from post-traumatic stress or traumatic brain injuries. These men and women have wounds that we cannot see. But they are real.


Modern veterans do not suffer because they are weak minded. Today’s veterans are not “softer” than veterans from previous generations or wars. They do not lack the character of their forebears. Today’s veterans suffer from horrible injuries because of the power of modern munitions, the sights and smells of the modern battlefield, and from the constant fear of death and of not returning to loved ones back home.


18 veterans commit suicide every day in the United States.


These suicides occur because the transition from combat service to civilian life is very difficult. These victims left the comforts of home, experienced things which they could not have imagined, then came home to a society that is not prepared to have them back.


This is not an anti-war message. Many wars need to be fought. The American armed forces have gained us our independence, freed millions of slaves from bondage, and destroyed fascist regimes on multiple continents. When diplomacy fails, America often has to protect its interests with bombs and bullets.


But we all need to fully understand the total costs of war on those who participate directly in them. We take our sons and daughters, train them to fight the enemy, then expect them to transition rapidly back into peaceful, productive, law-abiding citizens. This can be done, but it takes the total commitment of all.

What Blue Diamond Veterans Say

“The hunt was fantastic, and the food was great, but these were the proverbial “cherries on top.” What I enjoyed the most, and what I found I needed most was the camaraderie with fellow veterans. Despite the fact that it’s been 13 years since I EAS’d, I continue to miss the camaraderie that comes from time spent with others who’ve served. Blue Diamond successfully utilizes hunting as the medium for engaging veterans with other veterans.”
Chris J
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