Brighton, N.Y. - Veterans of professional hockey have been spending quality time this winter with some veterans of the military.
It's part of a program called OASIS (Outdoor Adventures for Sacrifice in Service)
Adaptive Sports that uses sports as a way to help those who've seen the worst of combat to recover from the horrors of war.
It's not every day you get a skating lesson from Rochester Amerks legend Jody Gage or former NHL player Randy Cunneyworth.
It's also not every day these two former pro players get the honor of working with the likes of Steve Swinehart or Jonathan Stanley.
Stanley served our country in Operation Iraqi Freedom and came home to fight other battles - with depression and post-traumatic stress.
"When you come home, it's hard turning that switch off," U.S. Navy veteran Jonathan Stanley said. "You have that wall built. And when you come to a program like this you're able to bring that anxiety down, you're able to trust more."
Volunteers in the OASIS program will work 55 local veterans this year. Focusing on new skills helps them look past any physical or psychological challenges.
"That's basically what coaching is," OASIS volunteer Randy Cunneyworth said. "Solving problems, overcoming obstacles...it's all for fun, but just seeing improvement is something in itself."
"You can feel it in your heart when you see a veteran excel at something that they thought they couldn't accomplish before," OASIS Board Chairman Vito Vasiliauskas said. "[They] meet a challenge."
Marine Corps veteran Steve Swinehart compares it to being in the military.
"You've got an instructor teaching you how," he said. "The techniques, you feel almost at home again."
When you're coming from a war zone, finding a comfort zone can make all the difference."I'm actually able to be here talking to you right now," Stanley added. "I'm not worried about what's going on at my back. I'm not looking over my shoulder and all that."
This is the first year the Amerks Alumni Association teamed up with OASIS, which also offers skiing, sailing, horsemanship archery and fly-fishing. It's also working with doctors at the University of Buffalo to determine ways to make the program more effective for the veterans it serves.
For more information on the Oasis program, click here