BVL: Opening Doors in Community Reintegration

At BVL, for years we’ve seen the healing power of recreation therapy for America’s veterans – providing sports, music and arts activities that encourage active and healthy lifestyles. But there’s another aspect to rec therapy: that is, to use these activities as a tool for community re-engagement. And at the Oklahoma City VA, they’re doing just that — opening doors for America’s veterans.

Supervisor of the Therapeutic Recreation Program at Oklahoma City VA Medical Center Kristy Doyle explains they use BVL grants to bring veterans out into the community. “Multiple trips are planned throughout the year with several different treatment groups,” explains Kristy. “Our Community Living Center patients participate in community trips to work on rehab goals. Thanks to BVL, we are able to take them to museums, ball games, and the like, to be exposed to a broad range of community events. Our STAR patients participate in community trips to increase knowledge of community resources and how to utilize those resources independently. Our Recreation Therapy Women’s Group plans and implements community trips to increase awareness of resources, learn new skills, gain confidence in using resources, increasing independence and overall quality of life.”

Kristi explains that these outings into the community provide important skills that veterans can use when they are discharged from the hospital, they know where the YMCA is and they know how to join in activities like clubs, senior living centers, pottery classes, etc.

BVL Executive Director Mary Harrar reflects on the Oklahoma City VA program and recognizes the importance of the community re-integration process, “While we can be effective in working with our veterans in the hospital setting to provide them healthy lifestyle choices, we can’t just put them out the door and expect them to navigate successfully in a whole new world. Kristy’s program gives veterans the footings and foundations they need when they are released from the ‘protected’ hospital environment.”

Judging from the smiles on the faces of the veterans enjoying the variety of activities, and the apparent level of comfort, this program is, indeed, proving its worth.

Kristi credits BVL for making a difference, “Thank you for assisting in making all of this possible! We appreciate everything you do for veterans!”