Veterans Connect in Nature
Strongpoint Theinert ranch and The Nature Conservancy partner for veterans weekend retreat at Mashomack Preserve.
Shelter Island, NY
Nearly 20 veterans from across the country are traveling to Shelter Island to take part in a Veterans Weekend retreat hosted by Strongpoint Theinert Ranch and The Nature Conservancy. Guests will stay at the Conservancy’s Mashomack Preserve, considered one of the richest habitats in the Northeast, where they will connect with nature and each other.
Weekend programming includes updating a trail for wheelchair access and other nature-based service projects, a combination paddle and hike that will cover 10+ miles of the preserve, and a celebration with local veterans and supporters. The majority of participants previously attended a retreat at Strongpoint Theinert Ranch, a 1,000-acre former cattle ranch in New Mexico.
Strongpoint Theinert Ranch is a nonprofit organization that hosts health and wellness retreats for veterans, their families, and Gold Star Families at the Theinert-Kestler family’s property in the remote Magdalena Mountains. Its mission is to help those who serve and sacrifice to strengthen, transition, and reconnect. The Ranch works in conjunction with The Joseph J. Theinert Memorial Fund to honor and remember Army First Lieutenant Joseph J Theinert of Shelter Island who was killed in action while serving in Kandahar, Afghanistan. As an officer, Joe’s number one priority was the care and safety of his men; together the organizations continue that mission of caring for veterans as they deal with challenges on the home front. There is no cost to a veteran to attend a program at Strongpoint Theinert Ranch.
"In only our third year of hosting veterans retreats at the Ranch in New Mexico, we are so excited to be partnering with The Nature Conservancy's Mashomack Preserve to help further our mission,” said Jimbo Theinert, President at Strongpoint Theinert Ranch. “Joe and I spent a lot of time in Mashomack over the years, and it was one of his favorite places to come home to and go for ruck to keep himself in shape during his military career. In fact, the concept of getting veterans together to help deal with the trauma and challenges of returning from a deployment was born on Shelter Island when we welcomed Joe's Platoon to visit the Island in 2011 after they redeployed from Afghanistan. That was one of the first really positive experiences for me after Joe's death and has been at the epicenter of what we hope to create at Strongpoint Theinert Ranch. This opportunity allows us to reunite many of our Northeast participants in a location that is very meaningful to our family.”
“The Nature Conservancy is proud to be partnering with Strongpoint Theinert Ranch and welcome our guests to fully unplug and experience Mashomack, a refuge for restoration, reflection, and understanding the world around us,” said Jeremy Samuelson, Mashomack Preserve Director at The Nature Conservancy. “Our collaboration with Strongpoint Theinert Ranch resonates with me on a personal level because it brings together two parts of my life as a member of a military family and a professional conservationist and has allowed me to give back to them both. I hope the experiences and learnings from this weekend will stay with our guests long after they’ve returned home.”
The Nature Conservancy is committed to engaging with veterans and military communities, hosting retreats and workshops at its preserves across the country. Its employee resource group Veterans in Nature’s Service is dedicated to creating a workplace culture of inclusion that helps veterans transition to civilian life and leverage the full potential of their experiences.
“As a Marine Corps combat veteran, I experienced firsthand the restorative power of nature,” said Greg Jacob, Policy Advisor at the Conservancy and co-lead of Veterans in Nature’s Service. “After leaving the Corps, my time in the woods, camping, hiking, and fishing played a pivotal role in my transition to civilian life. It is a privilege to bring veterans to our preserves and offer them restorative time in beautiful places. These retreats bring forth a powerful exchange, for our staff to learn more about veterans, their work ethic, and their experiences with conservation during their military service, and for veterans to learn about our critical mission to protect and conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends.”
“It is our hope that Veterans in Nature’s Service has found a home at Mashomack,” Samuelson added.
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.