VAST: Making Recreation Accessible to All Veterans

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The Veterans Adaptive Sports & Training (VAST) program at Pineland Farms promotes lifelong health and well-being of all Veterans through regular participation in a VAST array of physical activities and sports. Anything is possible with VAST, and we aim to make everyone feel welcome and included.

VAST is free to all Veterans with a mission make the program accessible to all who are interested in joining.

Though based in Maine, the program reaches Veterans from across the nation. In March of 2024, the Fort Kent Outdoor Center, part of the Pineland Farms umbrella, hosted the U.S. Biathlon National Championships, which included athletes from the U.S., Canada and Norway.

In preparation for the Biathlon National Championships, VAST director and founder Kristina Sabasteanski hosts an annual biathlon training camp where Veterans get to participate in a fun biathlon relay race, as well as perfect their skiing and shooting skills while making friends in a supportive, fun and heartwarming environment.

Sabasteanski, a U.S. Army and National Guard Veteran, has also coached adaptive cross country skiing at the annual Hartford Ski Spectacular in Colorado for the past 6 years. At this festival, she’s connected with and positively impacted many Veterans and athletes, one in particular, Dave, who she met in 2018 and taught to cross country ski by using a stand-up position, then by using a sit ski, as described in an article from the Portland Press Herald. Dave, who hails from Florida, has traveled to VAST’s annual biathlon training camp ever since. He competed in his first Biathlon Nationals at the Fort Kent Outdoor Center this past March.

Veterans Adaptive Sports & Training athlete Dave shooting at the US Biathlon National Championships

VAST Offers a Variety of Activities for All Veterans

VAST also offers a wide variety of activities, including cross country skiing and snowshoeing, hiking, downhill skiing, deer hunting and wheelchair sports among many more! The program meets every Wednesday at Pineland Farms from 9am-noon for free activities, chosen based off the season and Veterans interest.

There’s been significant growth of the program over the past eight years. In 2016, there were 847 participation days. In 2023, that number more than doubled to 1,830 days. During that period, VAST offered 210 different activities during 151 individual days of programming over the course of 857 hours of programming to 310 unique Veterans.

As a result, the program has had and continues to have a positive impact on many Veterans. Some heartwarming sentiments Veterans have shared with us of their experience with VAST include:

  • “This program improves my life by connecting me with like-minded people with the same goals.  Brings me out of my disability, my mind, improves my self-esteem and increases my support system which directly effects my self-care.”
  • “I really need these retreats for support.  I don’t have family support.  I love adaptive sports.  It helps me with my PTSD trouble and my traumas.  It is a positive place for me to be with other veterans that don’t judge and are not negative.”
  • “I love the way this camp supports an environment for veterans to thrive not as a disabled vet, but as a person.  I love how the camp lends itself to making tight bonds between fellow veterans and making it easier to share our day-to-day struggles with each other.  For myself, it has given my life a sense of purpose.  It has made me feel like my existence still has meaning.”

There are many different ways to be involved with VAST, from joining some of our events to volunteering. We encourage any and all Veterans who are interested to join.

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