Some people come to their life’s calling later than others. At the age of 50 in May of 2012, Dale Pitre will stride across the stage at Unity’s commencement and receive his diploma. His four year degree in general studies will have been largely self-designed and focused on his passion, serving veterans and first responders who are recovering from injuries, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and related challenges.
A veteran of the United States Coast Guard, Pitre knows firsthand the special challenges that come with military service.
“Often, veterans just don’t know about the (public and private) services that are available for them,” Pitre said. His belief is informed by experience gained through an internship he completed at Togus Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Togus, Maine from March to August of 2009.
Pitre says that the experience of working with veterans, especially in a natural setting as part of an adventure therapy program for veterans, was enormously rewarding.
The personal connections he made with veterans and first responders solidified his resolve to spend his career upon graduation from Unity College serving them. He already has a job waiting for him when he graduates in May.
Pitre will join the staff of Pine Grove Program of Pleasant Ridge, Maine, leading outdoor hunting and fishing excursions for veterans and first responders. When he begins his full-time job he will be intimately familiar with the program, his role, and many of the clients. Pitre has served Pine Grove Programs as a volunteer, something he plans to continue through his Senior year.
Listening to veterans and first responders who participate in the adventure therapy offerings at Pine Grove solidified his career choice.
“There are so many positive experiences that I have had working with veterans,” Pitre noted. “One veteran in his mid-20’s who had served in Afghanistan and was suffering from PTSD had never experienced fishing. He was isolated and had spent two years living in a basement. While fishing he opened up and stared to share with others. Many times veterans are isolated from the system and do not realize that there are others who are facing similar struggles.”