Veteran-made films show healing power of the outdoors

The healing powers of the outdoors will be shown through a series of short films made by military veterans who fought overseas.

“Warriors and Film in the North Cascades and Beyond” will take place Monday night in Tacoma.

The program will feature speakers involved in the Sierra Club’s Military Outdoors program who will present their footage and stories of veterans who adventure into the outdoors to heal, experience camaraderie and find the strength to continue their fight to make America a better place, said Josh Brandon of the Sierra Club.

The goal of the club’s military program to ensure that service members, veterans, and their families have the skills, exposure, knowledge and confidence to access the outdoors, Brandon said.

“Many veterans experience difficulty adjusting to civilian life after leaving the service,” he said. “Time spent outdoors eases the transition and improves both mental health and social skills.”

Elle Hanson, an Army veteran of Afghanistan, took part on the program’s 2014 film adventure. She shared some of her thoughts on the experience on the program’s website.

“Life gets complicated after deployment. Every day for almost a year, I left a piece of myself in the mountains of Afghanistan. In that void, the sight, smell, and sounds of war followed me home. I thought that I was climbing the North Cascades make a film. But that's not why the mountain called my name.

The mountain wanted to return something to me that was left behind on a battlefield on the other side of the world. My peace. My purpose. My sanity.”

“This will be a night of film, reflection, and a celebration of our veterans who have bravely shared their stories, and documented the struggles of returning home and demonstrated the role wild places have in helping our troops heal from the profound trauma of war,” said Krystal Kyer, executive director of the Tahoma Audubon Society.

Attendees should note that some of the films are suitable for adult audiences only. A discussion session will close the event.

The free program will take place at the Tacoma Mountaineers Program Center, 2302 N. 30th St., Tacoma .Organizers are expecting a large crowd. Seating is first come first serve, and doors open at 6:30 p.m.

The event is sponsored by Tatoosh Group of the Sierra Club, Tacaoma Mountaineers, University of Puget Sound, Tahoma Audubon Society and veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan.