‘UPVETS Served’ Program Provides Recreational Events and Connection to UP Veterans and Their Families


UPVETS Served is a program created and operated by SAIL (Superior Alliance for Independent Living) in Marquette, Michigan. UPVETS Served aims to provide recreational events for veterans and their immediate families throughout all 15 counties of the UP, and sometimes even attracts folks on the Michigan-Wisconsin border.

Events include outdoor activities like weekend-long camping trips, biking trips, tours of historic sites, fishing, and more, and almost always paired with a hearty meal.

The goal of UPVETS Served is connection. Upper Michigan is the definition of rural. Long distances with limited cell reception separate veterans from the only other people in the world who truly understand who they are and what they are experiencing–other veterans.

The events that UPVETS holds in and of themselves are not what is special or important–it is the other veterans who attend, the conversations held in between the fun stuff. UPVETS Served strives to increase the number of those moments. Connection is an incredibly crucial component in alleviating depression, isolation, and suicidality among veterans.

How are these events paid for? All UPVETS Served events are completely free of charge to participants, including meals. This is achieved through donor funds, particularly funds added to SAIL’s 1-in-5 campaign, which also funds four other SAIL programs, including Sled Hockey, SPAR (SAIL’s recreational program for individuals with disabilities), Home Safety, and assistive technology.

SAIL is committed to overcoming barriers that might normally keep people from engaging. Accessibility is always a focus. No one should be left out. SAIL does everything in its power to ensure that events held are open and accessible to all, regardless of disability.

SAIL is also committed to overcoming transportation barriers to the best of its ability–no veteran should be left out of an event that they would benefit from simply because they cannot afford the gas to drive there. As new barriers present themselves, SAIL strives to develop methods to overcome them and will continue to do so.

UPVETS Served events will be held year-round, and the aim is to consistently hold events every 30-60 days. The events are picking up in participatory numbers as they go on, and that is for good reason: local veterans are discovering an outlet for themselves to heal and connect, with an agency that is fully committed to making their experiences as therapeutic, stress-free and enjoyable as possible.

UPVETS Served is also in the midst of collaborations with various VA’s, other recreational programs, and a slew of other veterans service providers in Upper Michigan, all of which share a similar goal: create lasting and meaningful connections and experiences among those who gave their all for their country in a locale that often makes that goal difficult on one’s own.

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Timothy Schumann

Tim Schumann is the Program Manager for the SAIL’s Health & Wellness program. He has a background in social service and is passionate about physical health, mental wellness, and serving others.


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