Our Wild Bear Vets 2024 programme (postponed from 2023*) will take injured Ukrainian men and women soldiers and combat medics and offer them skills training, mentoring and recuperation in the Canadian wilderness.
The veterans and medics, each of whom are committed to returning to Ukraine, will in turn help other injured veterans by setting up or helping to organise wilderness programmes for them back in their home country.
Some of the participants in Wild Bear Vets 2024 are already beginning to organise grassroots veterans wilderness programmes in Ukraine. Wild Bear Vets will help them to develop their outdoor and wilderness skills.
Other participants are keen to start new veterans organisations that offer nature and wilderness activities in areas where they do not already exist. Wild Bear Vets will support them in developing their plans and, where possible, provide seed funding.
The numbers of dead and wounded are classified, but there are estimated to be at least 100,000 injured soldiers in Ukraine, and there may be many more. Many are poorly supported when they return home.
Meanwhile numerous studies have shown the benefits of time spent in nature and pursuing outdoor activities for those suffering physical and mental trauma.
Julius, the owner of Wild Bear Lodge, moved to the wilderness in 2006 as a way of dealing with his own troubles after 15 years working on the world’s frontlines as a war reporter.
Julius and Kim, who co-runs the programme, have travelled to Ukraine a number of times to meet wounded veterans, medics and those who are helping them recover during the last year. This has allowed them to best identify the needs of injured veterans.
This programme is being run in association with the Mindy Foundation, a Kyiv-based charity that helps veterans with physical and mental therapy and prosthetics.
Wild Bear Vets 2024 is not accepting any government money and will be entirely funded by Julius, Kim, Wild Bear Lodge, private donors and former and future guests.
We are still a little short of funding so if you would like to contribute towards this project, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org
* We have had to postpone the project by a few months. It was originally intended to run in Oct 2023 but the time it takes to get Canadian visas for Ukrainians has since lengthened dramatically and so the project will now run in May 2024.