Fitness, camaraderie, and positive psychology course to actively retrain our brains to live successfully in a civilian society
Our 14-week Reconditioning Program includes:
- Week-long adventure with Outward Bound
- 3x week crossfit and positive psychology
- Simple daily homework
- Fireteam accountability
- Local community experiences
The military does an amazing job of training us to be successful in the military, and develop a mindset that is great in combat. But that mindset makes it very difficult to live in the civilian world. 23V Recon reconditions our mind for life after the military.
In the military, we teach our brains not to trust anyone that’s not on our team. Every man, woman, and child is possible enemy. That doesn’t change just because we took a flight home, we still don’t trust people who we don't know. It’s very difficult to be comfortable at work, school, or in the community when our brain thinks everyone around us is enemy, and we no longer have your military team with to help. This social anxiety leaves us feeling most comfortable at home, so we tend to isolate ourselves. Social isolation is a very dangerous situation for our mind.
North Carolina Outward Bound School (NCOBS)
23V Recon starts with a week-long journey to Outward Bound. Veterans from a local area begin with a flight to a distant state where we spend 6+ days backpacking, rock climbing, canoeing, or sailing. Outward Bound is one of the worlds best organizations at creating camaraderie, during this outdoor adventure our team of veterans build tight bonds and learn to trust each other as they did in the military.
Crossfit and Reconditioning
Once returning from Outward Bound, we continue our journey for another 13 weeks. With this trusting team of veterans, we meet 3x per week at a local gym where a coach leads a 60-minute workout. 23V Recon is not a fitness program, but we utilize fitness to boost our learning. During this workout, our brain releases a protien called BDNF that aids in our memory. More information on BDNF is our page labeled The Need. We follow each workout with a 30-minute reconditioning session, sitting on the floor and talking using the 23V Recon Playbook as our guide. This session is designed to access more chemicals in our brain that give us a feeling of joy, and build healthy habits so we can continue to feel this happiness throughout our lives. Humans are supposed to have these happy chemicals, but when we isolate ourselves, when we don’t have a purpose, when we don’t love, and when we’re not serving someone, we’re not getting these very important brain chemicals.
4 weeks into the program we’re joined by a few civilians becoming part of the team. They follow the same requirements in and out of the gym, and during the Recon sessions. This allows our brain to lock in fun and trusting memories around people we don’t know. So the next time we find ourselves around a group of strangers, our brains don’t necessarily have to relate them with possible enemy.
Once we’ve developed this trusting team, we intentionally experience common negative triggers in the community. We begin with a night at a local restaurant full of people we don’t know, yet having a good time surrounded by our trusting team. This can allow our subconscious to remember a crowded restaurant as a safe and fun environment, all the while utilizing our BDNF from the previous workout to ensure we’re creating stronger memories.
We then “upgrade” the triggers by having fun at a bowling alley, trampoline park, and eventually shooting at a firing range or lighting fireworks together. This way the next time we hear unexpected screams, ground shaking, or a loud noise, our brains can relate it to new strong fun memories, rather than a memory from combat.
23V Recon Rules
- Show up
- No bitching
- No war stories
- No self-medication (includes no alcohol)
- Don’t watch the news
Currently Accepting Applications
Duluth, MN : June 25, 2019
Minneapolis, MN : October 11, 2019
St. Cloud, MN : Next course TBD
San Diego, CA : 2020
Los Angeles, CA : 2020
Bring 23V Recon to Your Town
If you are interested in hosting 23V Recon in your area, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I joined this program not knowing what it really is or how it would change me, and I found a better me. I was in a group that became a real part of life that helped with my depression and my overall opinion and attitude. I was eating better, sleeping better, and feeling better, all because of a missing bond found in any circle of veterans. The support from the program leaders as well as the group is phenomenal, and at the same time, you get to lift and work out problems with incredible people. You never think that something as simple as finding 3 positives about your day can have such a great effect on your mood until someone tells you-you'll be doing for 14 weeks! This program is inspiring and to any Vet...don't just sit down, sign up.
It was both an honor and a privilege to be a civilian participant in 23 rd Veteran’s Recon program. It started as an opportunity to show my thanks and appreciation to the soldiers in our community. It ended leaving me unexpectedly changed for the better. As a civilian, entering the program after the veteran participants have already established a sense of camaraderie was a bit intimidating. Walking into the gym, the team was welcoming, warm and ready to work. There was an immediate rapport. Three times a week we squatted, lifted and pushed ourselves for 60 minutes. Our trainer was deliberate in programming a unique exercise regimen that applied to all of our abilities and kept us working as a cohesive unit. We pushed together. We struggled together. We succeeded together. At the end of every workout, after being pushed to exhaustion, we had 30 minutes of positive psychology that solidified the group. The opportunity to listen and share our personal stories, triggers, fears, and triumphs, cemented us as a team. No judging, no bitching, no negativity in any way. This was by far, my favorite part of the program. The intended outcome of the 23V Recon program is happier, healthier veterans. It is proven that this program works. What makes it unique is that it works for civilian volunteers too!
As a volunteer civilian in the program, I can't say enough about what I learned during the weeks I was involved. I don’t know where everyone was at prior to the program but I can give an idea of where people are at after. Changed! A lot of self-help and counseling programs take place in a chair at a table with weekly discussions. In the Recon Program, we did it shoulder to shoulder in the gym. There was a lot of sweat, elevated heart rates, heavy breathing and sore muscles. That physical activity coupled with half-hour gratitude session after is where the change happens. Each participant not only saw changes in what they could do physically but you could see how everyone began to open up and trust one another. At some point, every participant said they didn’t feel like coming but they also said that once the day was over they were very glad they did. This combination of physical exertion and guided discussion jarred us participants out of the rut that we were in. As we pushed each other to improve physically we were also exposed to attitudes and emotions that once expressed we knew we shared both as the veterans and the civilians. Connections were made that we all engaged in the struggle. I appreciate each and every Recon team member for raising their hand and saying “I’m willing to do this, I’m looking for change.” Gutsy.
I liked the self-development I saw and experienced. I liked my physical and psychological improvements so much. When experiencing this cause, I felt like I “belonged” to a group and team. I had something to look forward to every day. I had something positive for each day for FOURTEEN weeks. I had something to be proud of and my overall happiness, health, and sense of PURPOSE increased dramatically. This course in self-development has made me finer in ways I’ve never experienced before. We thank you for making all this possible and hope you continue to keep changing veterans lives for the better.
"Donating to 23rd Veteran is my chance to serve those who've sacrificed so much for me".- sustaining donor