“When you transition out of the military, it’s not like flipping a switch in the back of your head,” says veteran and Mandan resident, Dutch Bialke.
Instead, transitioning back to civilian life takes time and effort.
“It is a struggle sometimes because there’s a definite difference between military life and civilian life,” says Bialke.
After nearly three decades in the military, Bialke is still transitioning. And that’s how he found himself with a group of veterans and first responders on an outdoor adventure.
“What we do is we take them out and we’ll sit around the campfire and they’ll just talk and talk and talk and self-heal basically in the outdoors is what we do,” says Allen Hecker, vice president of Veterans Outdoors Adventures North Dakota.
For the latest outdoor adventure, the group went paddlefishing at the Confluence.
“When John, another veteran, when he hooked into this paddlefish, everyone came together to help him pull in this paddlefish and it turned out to be huge,” says Bialke.
And it’s that camaraderie, that familiarity of shared experiences that Bialke enjoys most about the group.
“Ater 29 years, one month, and 19 days of military service, I’m still adjusting because I’ve only been out of the military for three years,” says Bialke.
But Bialke knows he has found some help with the adjustment with this group of comrades that he can embark on new adventures with.
Veterans Outdoors Adventures is for both veterans and first responders. The group is planning more outings this year, including a pheasant hunt, a women’s retreat, and a prairie dog hunt.