Military Program Frequently Asked Questions

1. What exactly is a Higher Ground military “program”?
A Higher Ground (HG) military program is a seven-day experience that utilizes Recreational Therapy to promote the healing and growth of veterans, as well as their partners/supporters, who have been impacted by Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Military Sexual Trauma (MST), and/or Polytrauma (multiple traumatic injuries, such as spinal cord injuries or severe burns). The experience is designed to help participants (veterans and their supporters) discover a renewed sense of identity and belonging, improved quality of life, and connection with a community of individuals with similar experiences. Higher Ground currently has three chapters, with HGLA serving California, HGNY serving the Northeast, and HGSV serving all other areas.

• HGSV POC: militaryparticipantcoordinator@highergroundusa.org
• HGNY POC: Natasha Roseboom natasha@highergroundusa.org
• HGLA POC: Kris King kris@highergroundusa.org
2. How much does it cost?
There is no cost to you. HG covers ALL program-related costs for veterans and their supporters, including reimbursement for travel costs. If air travel has been determined to be the best method of transportation to a program, we purchase and coordinate a flight itinerary for you. We recognize that there may be some travel costs you bear initially (for example: parking fees, checked luggage fees, etc.), so we have a simple scholarship application for reimbursement. This information is provided by your regional point of contact (POC).
3. How do I get on a program?
Once you have signed up on our website here, you will be contacted by an HG staff member serving your region. We communicate program opportunities through email; sometimes these emails don’t make it into inboxes, so be sure to check your junk folder once you’ve applied! We solicit interest in programs via email, but they are currently filled by the regional POC, so you will receive an official invitation once you have been placed on a program.
4. Who else will attend this program with me?
We intentionally keep our program units small, inviting 8-10 veterans to attend with their supporters. The size, as well as deliberately grouping participants with similar experiences, promotes unit cohesion and peer support.

Additionally, we group participants according to relationship status. If you are in a committed relationship, we have couples program structured to provide tools, skills, and resources to support your relationship. Our singles programs focus on supporting camaraderie and personal growth. If you are in a relationship, but are unable to attend with your significant other, please reach out to discuss your options.

If your relationship status has changed, please email us at militaryparticipantcoordinator@highergroundusa.org to update it.
5. My disability is _____. Do I qualify for a military program?
Qualifying veterans experience symptoms of trauma. This includes PTSD, TBI, MST, and/or Polytrauma. Although many of our participants have been diagnosed or documented by the VA as having endured trauma, HG’s criteria does not require a formal diagnosis. Additionally, HG readily adapts to most forms of mobility challenges (service-related or otherwise) or ability level. Participants who utilize walkers, canes, wheelchairs, CPAP machines, hearing aids, service dogs, etc. are able to fully participate in our program.
6. I’m active duty/retired/served long ago. Am I eligible?
Yes. Any service member or veteran that meets the criteria mentioned above (Question 5) can apply. This includes veterans who have served at any point pre- or post-9/11. All applicants will provide a DD-214 (Member 4) as proof of service.
7. What can Recreational Therapy do for me?
Recreational Therapy (or Therapeutic Recreation) introduces participants to the use of recreation - often in natural/outdoor settings - to support and enhance psychological and physical health, and overall quality of life. HG’s military programs, designed and facilitated by our Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists (CTRSs) and other trained professionals, utilize a broad array of techniques in pursuit of this goal. Examples include teaching new recreation activities, facilitating group discussion, and providing access/direction to resources in your community.

Something to keep in mind: Recreational Therapy is recreation with a therapeutic function. While our programs are definitely fun, they are MUCH more than just a vacation.

For more information on Recreational Therapy, see our website here.
8. What staff members will be on my program?
The HG Recreational Therapy program model is typically implemented by Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists (CTRSs), trained program staff, Mental Health Professionals (MHPs), interns seeking related careers, and volunteers. Several of our staff, interns, and volunteers are veterans themselves, and all are trained to serve the specific needs of the veteran population.
9. I understand HG offers support from a Mental Health Professional (MHP) on each program. Am I required to get counseling with the MHP?
No. We are proud to have Mental Health Professionals available for all of our programs, but it remains your choice if, when, and how you want to speak with one. If you’re not interested in soliciting their professional input, they are just more fun people on the program. Our MHPs are available during our programs for voluntary individual or couples’ sessions. Regarding couples’ counseling: while our MHPs are ready to support couples in addressing relationship challenges, they may also help to identify themes that cannot be resolved in the week. If you have concerns about the nature of your relationship challenges, please ask our staff. We are happy to help you explore whether a particular program is the best fit for your current relationship needs.
10 What is a "supporter"?
On a couples program, your supporter is your significant other in a committed relationship.

On a singles program, a supporter is a close friend or family member. He/she is a significant person in your life who you rely on or trust with personal information; who you turn to when you’re having a hard time. This person may or may not be a caregiver, and they can be a veteran or civilian over the age of 18.

If your relationship status has changed, please email us at militaryparticipantcoordinator@highergroundusa.org to update it.
11. Do I have to bring a supporter?
Couples programs: Yes. We tailor tools, skills, and resources to promote healthy relationships, so both you and your romantic partner need to be present.

Singles programs: Your choice. Veterans can choose to attend on their own or with a supporter – whatever feels right for you.
12. I want to attend an HG program, but my child/pet-care situation is preventing me from doing so. Can you help?
We understand that child-care and pet-care are significant obstacles to attending. If you contact your regional POC, they will do the best they can to assist you in finding additional support or resources.
13. How do I know what I need to pack?
Once you have received an official invitation, the staff leading your program will email you an Operations Order with a suggested packing list specific to that program. They can also address any further questions you may have.
14. Do you have any family programs?
Yes, some HG locations have one family program a year (typically in the summer, when schools are out). Please contact your region’s POC for more details.
15. Do you serve the LGBTQ+ community?
Yes. Absolutely. We make no distinctions amongst veterans.
16. Can I go on a program in _____ location?
This depends on a few different factors. Primarily, however, veterans will attend programs at the HG location assigned to the region in which they reside. For example, a veteran living in upstate New York will be invited to attend a program at our Buffalo, New York chapter.

Please keep in mind that the therapeutic benefit of our programs is consistent across all HG chapters. While it may be appealing to attend a program in an area away from where you live, the reason we are expanding nationally is to reduce travel costs in order to serve more veterans. Additionally, our ability to support you with resources and post-program follow up is enhanced with regional groupings.
17. I/We really want to do _____ activity! When can we do _____?
We understand that you may have recreation preferences. We offer a variety of activities, but if your heart is set on a specific choice it may be months or years before that activity is offered at a time when you can attend. You’ll greatly increase your chances of attending a program by considering more than one activity.

Please note that therapeutic benefit is integrated into all of our programs, regardless of the specific activity. Our participants often express being more grateful for the tools and skills they bring home than the recreational experience alone.
18. Can I bring my service dog?
We welcome service dogs that meet ADA requirements to attend our program. This means they have been trained to provide a specific functional service to the owner. At this time emotional support animals do not qualify. Each program has different requirements, expectations, and logistical capacities for service dogs. For example, a service dog attending a rafting trip must wear an appropriate personal flotation device (PFD), be a confident swimmer, and be able to handle separation from its owner (with adequate supervision) for several hours so he/she can participate fully in the program. Please ask your regional POC for more information.

Note: We can only accommodate one or two service animals on any program; priority is given to those who have been on our waitlist longest.
19. I have a scheduling conflict. Can I just attend part of the program?
No. Our programs are designed to be progressive, with each day building on the preceding days. Each program includes seven full days: two days traveling to/from and five days of structured/scheduled activities. We are happy to provide a program benefit letter to your (and/or your supporter’s) employer, school, commander, etc. to justify your time with us and legitimize your attendance.

A caveat: our programs are not “clinical” so such letters may not count towards court-ordered/legal obligations or VA/insurance documentation. If you have any such questions or concerns, please discuss this with our staff.
20. How many programs can I attend? Can I come back?
Due to our lengthy waitlist, we are only able to offer one week-long program to each veteran. However, this includes continuing support via phone and email for three years following your participation in an HG program, and providing resources to help you locate recreation opportunities in your home community.

As much as we would love to have you back, each veteran can attend one program total. If you went on a couples program, you cannot return on a singles program, and vice versa.
21. Do you provide Recreational Therapy services to individuals other than veterans?
Our Sun Valley, Idaho location provides recreational services to individuals with disabilities. To learn more about our general recreation programming, go here.
22. I have questions not addressed here. What do I do?
Email us at militaryparticipantcoordinator@highergroundusa.org. A team member will contact you within 3-5 business days.