Importance of Natural Resources

A veteran’s journey into nature reduced his PTSD


(haunting music) – [Voiceover] War
changes you by making you only follow orders and question nothing. – [Voiceover] Experiencing awe changes us by making us wonder and
question everything. – [Voiceover] War makes
you turn off your emotions. – [Voiceover] Awe turns
us on to new feelings. – [Voiceover] War changes
you by closing you off to the rest of the world. – [Voiceover] Awe changes
us by expanding our world and that can change everything. (people talking) – My name is Jet Garner,
I’m a junior here at CAL. I’m studying political economy
and I am a combat veteran. I went on two different deployments: one in ’09 and one in 2010. They were combat
deployments to Afghanistan. They definitely changed my life. They changed my personality, they affected a lot of how
I interact with people, with the world, and I actually
got diagnosed with PTSD. – My name is Craig Anderson and I’m a sixth year PhD student in the social and personality area
in the psychology department. I have specific interest
in the emotion of awe. Awe makes people curious about their physical and social environment. – [Jet] You know it’s really
hard to transition back. It is. Even though I say
it was very smooth for me I still had a lot of wall to dig through so you can stomach all these interactions and stomach all this that happened. – We tested if the
curiosity that people feel while they’re out in nature
has downstream social benefits. We partnered with the
Sierra Club who had a program of getting people out into nature by going white water rafting. Military veterans were a
population that we had in mind that might especially benefit
from being in the outdoors. – [Jet] I initially wasn’t really sure how much fun I would have or
if it’d affect me that much. I don’t particularly seek out
hiking or anything right now. – [Craig] We use three
different methods in this study. So we ask about things like anxiety, how well people have been
sleeping, how curious they are, and then we follow it up one week later. We also collected saliva because the emotions that people feel are tightly related to
physiological processes. And finally, we had GoPro cameras and we go through the
footage to code for things like emotion expression,
working together as a team you know, if somebody
falls out of the raft, who helps them get back in. (quiet music) – [Craig] One of the most
fascinating things I’ve seen is kind of the transformation over the day where people lose that fear and are really enjoying themselves playing with others,
getting in splash fights, jumping into the water and going swimming. It’s a lot of fun to watch. – [Jet] I had a great time.
It was a whole lot of fun. The experience itself was just
so touching and so much fun, that it really struck me
incredibly as very awesome. (quiet music) – I think it’s really
interesting that even though I spend a lot of time with
the other Cal veterans that normally we end up drinking, we talk, we’re nostalgic about
combat, we talk about previous experience in the military, and it’s almost like we’re stuck in it. However, on this rafting trip, we ended up never talking about combat. I felt like we were all
really living in the moment. And it really felt like we were almost moving on beyond our hangups. – [Craig] The veterans, a
week after the rafting trip, reported lower levels
of post-traumatic stress and also anxiety. It’s my hope that this research will help make it possible for
people to get prescriptions to get out into the
outdoors to help them with their physical, mental, and social health. – [Jet] Going on the trip helped me kind of analyze my own feelings, and able to bring them to the surface, and I’m hoping that’s
going to be something that can stick with me
and help me in the future as I recover from my experiences. (splashing) (chatter) (calm music)


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