Jun 30, 2020
Ornstein-Schuler Hosts Combat Veteran Retreat on Conserved Northern Alabama Property
‘Healing Heroes’ Event Helps Warriors Cope with PTSD, Veteran Suicide, COVID-19 Anxieties
Ornstein-Schuler Investments (OSI) hosted a “Healing Heroes” retreat from June 25 to June 28 for our nation’s military veterans and their families on a property with a conservation easement called Rock Fence. In partnership with The Barn Group Land Trust and American Military Family (AMF) – an organization dedicated to preventing veteran and first responder suicides – OSI provided a rare opportunity for 22 combat veterans and their families to come together for a weekend full of fishing, skeet shooting, UTV and ATV riding, and boating, all on the property’s grounds, which feature 433 acres of pristine wetlands, streams, bedrock shoals, forests, open fields, well-maintained trails, and beautiful Lake Wedowee.
The retreat also featured evening fireside sessions with fellow warriors that served as a safe platform for the attendees to discuss their traumas and anxieties with other combat veterans.
“While we can never fully repay these heroes for their selfless service to our country, OSI is proud of our role to permanently protect the Rock Fence property so that it can be utilized by our military veterans and their families to connect, recharge, and enjoy nature,” said Ornstein-Schuler Co-Chief Executive Officer Matt Ornstein. “This is the eighth veterans retreat we’ve held on the property in the last two years, and as we closely follow guidance from public health officials with respect to the pandemic, we have several more scheduled for this year. We applaud the efforts of lawmakers to confront critical issues like combat veteran suicide head-on, and we encourage Congress to continue to strengthen the incentives that make the conservation of land like the Rock Fence property possible so it can be enjoyed for generations to come.”
In 2018, OSI investors donated a conservation easement on 433 acres of natural land in Northern Alabama to The Barn Group Land Trust, permanently protecting it from development. Today, that land is providing hope and healing to veterans and their families.
Designed for veterans disabled during service, the four-day retreat enabled veterans and their families to enjoy the therapeutic benefits of sprawling green space, clean air, untouched bodies of water, and nature trails. Outdoor activities such as recreational fishing and clay shooting also provided them invaluable opportunities to make lasting memories with their loved ones and restore kinships that may have been affected during service.
Military veterans often face challenges reintegrating into society after returning home from service, and study after study has shown that spending time in nature reduces stress, anxiety, depression, and aggression, and improves happiness, life satisfaction, and social connectedness. Psychologists have called these outdoor experiences “a green prescription.”
The retreat also featured evening fireside chats with other combat veterans to candidly discuss the societal and mental health challenges they face both reintegrating into society and coping with the added stress and anxiety of the COVID-19 pandemic.
OSI’s investors played an important role in permanently protecting the Rock Fence property and have permanently conserved more than 27,000 acres of ecologically valuable land in the Southeastern United States through conservation easement donations.