Back to News

Dirt therapy

Organization helps veterans by going off-road

Veterans Back 40 Adventure offer off-road bike trips to veterans and their families. Photo credit: VB40ADV

Email Article Print Article Share on Facebook Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon

Veterans Back 40 Adventure engages in "dirt therapy" by opening up the throttle of life by connecting veterans to their peers, loved ones, and themselves through dirt bike riding.

As to its name, veterans comprise the organization; Back 40 refers to the training area on most military installations; and Adventure is what they seek.

The 501(c)3 nonprofit organization is a Pacific Northwest-based endeavor that provides veterans with no-cost dual sport/adventure bike trips in order to rekindle camaraderie by using dirt therapy and team-building exercises.

"This isn't a drum circle or the stereotypical ‘mental health program' which so many of us immediately reject," explained SSgt. Niccolo Phillips, 1st Air Support Operations Group.

"We will challenge ourselves and the veterans we serve; we just want to be ‘us.'"

One of "us" is Morgan Northrup.

Returning from two tours in the Middle East as a soldier and civilian contractor, depression and anxiety cornered him.

After receiving a plane ticket to Colorado from his dad to attend a dual sport motorcycle retreat for veterans dealing with PTSD, Northrup found his calling.

"What he discovered in that introduction literally saved his life," continued Phillips, "and he found himself on a mission to help other veterans connect and grow."

Veterans Back 40 Adventure -- or VB40ADV -- launched Sept. 15, 2016. Since then it has spread across Washington state, Idaho, Oregon and, yes, Tennessee.

The organization organizes, funds and hosts activities across the Northwest from 24-hour team-building races, to two- to five-day, off-the-grid Dual Sport/Adventure bike trips.

"This is not a one and done, fire-and-forget program," emphasized Phillips. 

"It is a process with no defined end or beginning. A journey. A life-journey. Our goal is to find, engage, and keep these veterans accountable to each other ... to nurture the absolutely vital camaraderie and sense of belonging we all crave when we hang up the uniform and assume the mantle of veteran."

Throughout it all, VB40ADV focuses on family and the camaraderie that characterizes veterans -- whether they have seen combat or not.

"We know family is vital to the process of growth and development in sharing the love of two wheels," added Phillips.

VB40ADV partners with multiple sponsoring companies to help further its brand: growth of the veterans' community. Giant Loop, International Motorcycle Shows, WLF Enduro, Trail Tech, Cyclops Adventure Sports, T-Line Design, Next Adventure, Upshift Online, Icon Motorsports and Warfighter Outfitters are some of the more well-known.

The work that Morgan and others have put in to make VB40ADV has found success.

"We've been told countless times by friends and family members that what we've created has quite literally saved their loved one's life," concluded Phillips. "We've made them all feel welcome, and we have given them purpose and a healthy escape."

That's the power of dirt therapy.

For more information, visit:

Read next close

Military Life

Roller derby bootcamp lets rookies break in

comments powered by Disqus