Traverse City, MI –
A few years back we brought you the story of a small Veterans group that was working every day to make sure that fewer of our soldiers are lost after the battles are over and our brave men and women in uniform come home. We caught up with Matt Marciniak who founded the local chapter of The Fallen Outdoors and found that not only is the program still running, it’s thriving.
The Fallen Outdoors is a charity run by Veterans, for Veterans that provides opportunities for outdoor recreation and offers a support system outside of the standard VA. Their core belief is that giving servicemembers a chance to be outdoors together will help to lessen the burden that many of our ex-military members carry every day. Mental illness affects us all, and in the Veteran community the issues can be especially acute. Twenty two Veterans per day commit suicide, which by any measure is a terrible toll. The Fallen Outdoors hopes that number will soon fall.
Over the last few years, Matt has become the team lead for the whole state of Michigan. The program has expanded by leaps and bounds, with 58 trips in 2019, to 98 last year despite the pandemic, to finally 109 scheduled trips as of 2021. Last year, Matt and his team also helped out around the holidays with 48 veteran families in need getting Thanksgiving meals provided and 5 families getting help with Christmas.
Matt will be the first to tell you that this isn’t about him “I am the team lead but my team makes everything work,” he said earlier today via email. But, all of this became possible because one ex-soldier came home and saw his community struggling. One person came back from their darkest moment and thought they could help, to remind Veterans that they are not alone.
If you would like to get involved with The Fallen Outdoors, please contact them at their website http://www.thefallenoutdoors.com. If you are on Facebook, they can be found @TheFallenOutdoors and on their Midwest group page as well. They have local chapters across the country helping Veterans through the darkest times in their lives, and appreciate any support.