Veterans Programs

Retreat & Support Group Coordinators
Theresa Hebert
Bonnie Pettis

There are many Veterans struggling and living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). With the stigma of PTSD, many Veterans do not seek professional help. We want to be part of the solution.

Through social programs and restorative retreats, Veterans suffering from the unseen wounds of service can build healthy, trusted relationships and resilience to help overcome mental health conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and military sexual trauma (MST). With the incredible support of our donors, The Highground provides various opportunities for Veteran community gatherings and activities promoting happier, more fulfilling lives.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Check out the free programs we offer here. As always, all programs and services provided through The Highground are at no cost to Veterans and their families.

Veteran & Family PTSD Peer Support Group

What started off as a “Veteran Family Support Group” program has grown into so much more. Family members of Veterans and Gold Star family members are often overlooked and find it difficult to tap into resources to help them and their Veterans on their journey.  Their unique experiences with military service presents difficult challenges to “fitting” into civilian support groups. 

Having the diversity of Veterans and family members in different stage of their journeys presents an extraordinary dynamic where they share perspectives, resources and most importantly a stigma-free, attentive and compassionate ear. It helps to know that you’re not alone with your feelings, struggles and even successes (link to a feel good story). We provide a safe, peer support environment that answers that purpose. Members are provided with resources, opportunities to engage in healthy activities and workshops that can help them on their journeys.

The support group meets at The Highground every third Sunday from 2-4pm and consists of prescheduled topics, guest speakers and resources. As the program grows, groups can and will take on a traveling schedule, bringing the support to other areas, and exploring healing resources off site.

Visit our Calendar of Events for upcoming dates and more information about the Veteran & Family PTSD Peer Support Group.

Spouses & Partners of Veterans Support Group

Join other spouses and loved ones in a safe, peer supportive environment where they are likely to have a common purpose and understand one another. Come share common experiences, similar feelings (the good, the bad and ugly), worries and the everyday challenges that supporting your Veteran experiencing post traumatic service related issues can cause for couples as well as the entire family. You are not alone.

Benefits of participating include:
•  talking openly and honestly about your feelings and struggles.
•  learning new and improving existing coping skills for the challenges you face.
•  feeling less lonely, isolated or judged.
•  learning about new resources for you, your family and your Veteran.
•  gaining a sense of empowerment, control and hope.
•  improving your understanding of your Veteran’s experiences during service.
•  staying motivated in your support of your Veteran without losing yourself.
The Spouses & Partners of Veterans Support Group meets at The Highground:
In person and virtually every second Wednesday of the month from 5–6pm.
every fourth Wednesday of the month from 5–6pm.

Visit our Calendar of Events for upcoming dates and more information about the Spouses & Partners of Veterans Support Group.

Veterans Retreats

Veterans from all military branches & service eras, coming together for adventure, fun, camaraderie and growth.

The Highground has helped enrich the lives of many Veterans over the years. This has been accomplished by fostering trusted relationships created through unique programs and activities.  

With a holistic approach, the activities and workshops are designed to help Veterans recognize buried emotions and experiences, helping to relieve burdens and soften memories so they can begin to find their purpose and mission at home. Veterans are provided with take-home resources at the end of the retreat and they decide which tools work the best for them.

The Highground hosts are experienced and will be joined by seasoned professionals.

Sample Activities:

•  UH-1H Vietnam Huey Helicopter visit
Outdoor recreational & therapeutic activities (e.g., fishing, canoeing and archery)
Meditation exercises & activities (e.g.,T’ai Chi, talking circle, journaling, equine therapy and therapeutic nature walks)
Fireside bonding
Art workshops

2024 Veterans Retreat Dates

“Vets & Guitars” and Ukuleles

Music is a powerful tool in bringing joy to life. Peace and focus can be felt almost immediately when we listen to and create music improving mental health. The Highground’s Vets & Guitars (and Ukuleles) course is a fun way for Veterans to learn a lifelong artistic skill in the company of fellow Veterans.

All courses are instructed by local award-winning musician and instructor, Victoria Shoemaker. Victoria has partnered with The Highground to develop this music program for Veterans. More information on Victoria and her music performances with Peter Phippen in their band, Virginia Steel, can be found at virginiasteelmusic.com.

The Acoustic Guitar course is geared toward Veterans who have little to no experience as well as to those who have not played in years and would like to refresh their skills and enjoy the company of fellow Veterans.

The Ukulele course was a new addition to The Highground’s Veterans programs in 2023 as these fun instruments are growing in popularity. According to Victoria, “The ukulele is easier for Veterans that have a lack of hand strength or control to play. We wanted to offer this exciting option for Veterans that have not joined the guitar course because of this…we want to reach out to more Veterans with this important program.”

If you would like to join in the musical fun, we recommend that you sign up for the guitar or the ukulele not both unless you already have experience with one of the instruments. It may be difficult and at times frustrating to attempt to learn two instruments at the same time. 

Registration for these courses is required. To sign up, please email Theresa at museum@thehighground.us or call 715-743-4224.

These 10-session courses, instruments and supplies necessary for beginner instruction are free for Veterans because of the generosity of many donors.  Major funding for the 2023 Vets & Guitars program was provided by the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs, the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) and Lawrence Kizewski. It takes $150 to sponsor a Veteran for the program. If you would like to sponsor a Veteran, please reach out to Theresa (see contact information above).

Visit our Calendar of Events for more information and upcoming dates for the “Vets & Guitars” and Ukuleles program.

PTSD Book Program

There are several books within the program that offer readers the education, guidance and support that is needed to explore their histories of personal war wounds, starting conversations, finding peace, releasing burdens and softening memories.

With support, encouragement and an agreement to share the book with another who would benefit, these books are given to Veterans and their families in crisis in hopes the Veteran or family member finds the much-needed guidance they need.

Winter Veterans Retreat: February 2-4
Female Veterans Ice Age Trail Hike: May 30–June 2
Female Veterans Retreat: June 21–23
Male Veterans Retreat: September 13–15
Operation Re-Connect Couples Retreat: October 18–20

Visit our Calendar of Events for more information about these retreats.

Upcoming Events at The Museum

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