Vet Arts Connect, an initiative of the Institute for Integrative Health, partnered with Mid-Atlantic Hiking Group to create "Veterans Hike Across Maryland," a program designed to improve veterans' overall health and well-being.
In a series of five hikes this fall, veterans covered 41 miles on the Appalachian Trail in Maryland. The final hike, held on Veterans Day, concluded with a celebration in Harpers Ferry, WV.
Each participant was required to attend at least three of the five hikes and to take surveys at the beginning and the end of the program. These surveys will be used to test for improvement in symptoms associated with the most common psychological wounds facing veterans, including PTSD, traumatic brain injury, and chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
The research, conducted by Vet Arts Connect and the Institute for Integrative Health, will investigate the impact of active engagement in arts and nature on stress, anxiety, depression, social interaction, sleep disturbance, anger, and other symptoms.