VETPAW: Protecting Wildlife and Improving Veteran Mental Health Through Conservation Efforts

VETPAW: Protecting Wildlife and Improving Veteran Mental Health Through Conservation Efforts

Wildlife and landscape conservation is an important aspect of our ecosystem. While there are many organizations that work towards this, there are some that are particularly noteworthy for their efforts in not just conservation, but also for providing a sense of purpose and mental health benefits to veterans. One such organization is Veterans Empowered to Protect African Wildlife (VETPAW).

History of VETPAW

Founded in 2014 by former U.S. Marine, Ryan Tate, VETPAW is a non-profit organization that provides conservation and anti-poaching support in African wildlife reserves. Their mission is to protect endangered species, empower local communities, and provide purpose and healing for veterans. VETPAW's efforts include deploying veteran teams with specialized skills and training to support rangers in their fight against poaching, providing educational programs to local communities, and advocating for wildlife conservation.

The organization was born out of Ryan Tate's desire to make a positive impact on the world and provide veterans with a sense of purpose and service after their time in the military. VETPAW's team consists of veterans from all branches of the military who have completed combat tours and want to continue serving by protecting wildlife and supporting local communities.

Mental Health Benefits for Veterans

VETPAW's work has been found to have positive mental health benefits for veterans. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, many veterans face mental health challenges such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after their military service. These issues can be caused by the stress of deployment, exposure to combat, and the transition to civilian life.

VETPAW's work provides veterans with a sense of purpose and mission, which can be beneficial for their mental health. In an interview with NBC News, Ryan Tate stated that "the feedback we've received from veterans is that this gives them a sense of purpose, a sense of mission, and that's the biggest thing that they miss when they leave the military."

Furthermore, being in nature and working towards conservation can have therapeutic effects for veterans. A study conducted by the University of Michigan found that spending time in nature can improve mental health, reduce stress, and improve overall well-being. VETPAW's work in wildlife conservation and protection allows veterans to not only serve a greater purpose but also experience the healing benefits of nature.

Other Organizations Supporting Veteran Mental Health

VETPAW is not the only organization providing mental health benefits to veterans through conservation work. The Sierra Club Military Outdoors Program is another organization that offers outdoor experiences for veterans, providing opportunities for them to connect with nature and each other. The program offers activities such as hiking, camping, and rock climbing, allowing veterans to experience the therapeutic benefits of being outdoors while also building community.

VETPAW and other organizations like it are not only working towards conservation and anti-poaching efforts but also providing valuable mental health benefits to veterans. By providing a sense of purpose, mission, and connecting with nature, veterans can find healing and support after their military service. These organizations are essential in addressing mental health challenges that many veterans face, and it is important to support them in their mission.


To learn more about VETPAW and their work, visit their website at For more information on mental health resources for veterans, visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website at

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