Transcript: Grant helps increase personal connections, support for veterans during pandemic

Simple piano music plays. Rock walls tower on either side of a path. Moss and tree roots cling to the sides of the fifteen-foot-tall cliffs, and fall leaves cover the ground. A blue banner appears from the bottom left of the screen with white text.

ON SCREEN TEXT:    Panama Rocks

                                    Panama, NY

As the banner disappears, a man and a woman hike into view between the cliffs. The man points down the path. He wears sunglasses on top of the baseball cap on his head. He and the woman both wear army-green hiking backpacks, and the woman holds a paper in her hands. The man follows her as she leads the way down the rocky path.

MARK: Taken aback by the nature and just like the rocks themselves. I can't ever remember seeing anything like this.

The man solemnly faces the camera. He has a neatly trimmed beard and wears a faded baseball cap adorned with an American flag over his graying hair.

MARK: I’m Mark Davis and I was in the United States Army. I did two deployments in Iraq.

Now he follows the woman through a sparse forest of young trees.

MARK: When we come back, we're changed. We're not the same people that we were.

In an interview, the man faces us. A blue banner appears in the bottom left of the screen with white text.

ON SCREEN TEXT:          Mark Davis

                                    United States Army Veteran

Mark sits at a weather-beaten picnic table. His blue t-shirt exposes the tattoos on his forearms.

MARK: Veterans as a whole, we tend to isolate anyway, as opposed to like, trying to go out and, like, deal with stressors, things like that, we just stick to ourselves, and we stay home.

The music begins to swell. The woman wears a wide smile as she leads him through a narrow crevice between rocks. They stroll through the forest past a rocky outcropping. Back at the picnic table, Mark interviews. A long wooden building with small square windows is visible in the background.

MARK: The pandemic really wasn't a game changer too much for us. They just made it easier for us to kind of go back to our behaviors that we already do. That's a behavior that we really need help with changing.

The music picks up as more instruments join in. Mark and the woman walk a wide path behind a few other hikers. One person sits on the point of a large rock sticking out from the ground. There’s a sign posted on a nearby tree.


                                    Pride Rock

Now another man sits at the picnic table. He also wears a baseball cap with an American flag on it, along with sunglasses and a gray t-shirt. A blue banner appears from the bottom left of the screen with white text.

ON SCREEN TEXT:          Daniel Arnold

Veterans One-stop of Western New York, Peer Support Manager

DANIEL: The pandemic, really, in the beginning was really isolating veterans.

Mark and the woman traverse a path full of gnarled tree roots. Now a man in jeans and a black shirt and cap hikes with a woman wearing a blue hat and black backpack. A group of other adults walks down a gravel path. A sign posted on a tree features pictures of stones beneath a title.


Back at the picnic table, Daniel interviews.

DANIEL: Today, it was a veteran event with families to get out and see different areas around the Western New York area. And to get the veterans out to socialize with each other is really the biggest thing.

Strings and drums join the piano in a crescendo. Mark and the woman chat on a gravel part of the path. A blue rectangle appears, covering the right side of the screen. White text appears on it.

ON SCREEN TEXT:          Veterans One-stop Center received a UnitedHealthcare grant to support veterans like Mark during the pandemic.

Mark and the woman continue onward. More white text appears on the blue rectangle.

ON SCREEN TEXT:          The grant funds horseback riding, kayaking, hiking and other events to help increase their social interaction.

Now they walk a rocky dirt path, twisted with tree roots. More hikers are visible ahead of them. Daniel interviews.

DANIEL: It's changed people's lives because they're able to get out and about and if it wasn't for that grant, we probably wouldn't have been doing much at all. We want to get them out and get them socialized, which is the biggest thing that they could do for their mental health.

Shoes step over a rocky path. As Mark and the woman trail behind other hikers, they look up at a cliff which towers over the path. Now Mark climbs out from a dark crevice between two rocky cliffs.

MARK: Empowered, like inspired. I’m out there with like my pack on with like a little bit of weight in it, just doing things that I might not be able to do. Just getting to talk to like some other people that I've never met before.

He and the woman stand with Daniel and another woman on the path, gazing at their surroundings. Mark interviews.

MARK: It just continues to like, kind of normalize some of the stuff that like I've had to like deal with and other veterans like me are dealing with as well.

Mark studies the paper as he follows the woman up a hill beside a cliff overgrown with tree roots. Now the man in jeans and the woman in the blue hat stop to read a sign on a tree. Other hikers look up at a cliff face which is covered in moss. Mark and the woman stand among the trees, then holds hands as they stroll down a path through the forest.

MARK: I know that there's a lot more people who are still isolating and still not ready to accept the help that's out there. And the longer that this stuff is available, the better it'll be for more veterans.

The music fades down to a simple piano tune again. A blue logo shaped like overlapping U’s appears on a white background before being replaced by blue text.

ON SCREEN TEXT:          United