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Posted on Aug 25, 2011 in Newsletters | 0 comments

Newsletter #5

Greetings all,

The Wounded Warriors on Cataract effort is expanding into unexpected and wonderful areas. I have been contacted by Stacy Bare, National Military Family and Veteran Representative in the Sierra Club, with several opportunities that have come out of his becoming aware of the whitewater trip. Stacy is 6’8”, ex Army Intelligence and Airborne, started VetExpeditions, and now with the Sierra Club in Washington DC.

• Through the Sierra Club he is bringing two of the Wounded Warrior Marine rafters and service dog and Emily Potter, Recreation Therapist from the Salt Lake VA Hospital, back to DC in mid-September to speak to and enlist

the support from policy makers, legislators, about outdoor activities for vets and disabled vets, and about preserving our Parks and wilderness areas.

• Emily Potter is going to apply for a Sierra Club grant to research the benefits of the river trip to Wounded Warriors by having observed them before , during, and after the trip. This will hopefully teach us how to maximize and optimize the benefit of future whitewater trips to the Wounded Warriors, as well as highlighting the value of such trips, thereby attracting additional support from therapists, policy makers, and others. Our major goal is to help reintegrate these Warriors as best we can.

• Jackie Hueftle, the free lance writer that accompanied us on the trip, is going to apply for a Sierra Club grant to teach leadership skills surrounding organizing and executing outdoor activities for vets and disabled vets. This effort is to expand and propagate the volunteer force so that a growing number of these volunteers are trained to set up and execute out- door programs. She is also work- ing on an article on the trip to go into a national magazine.

Because of all of the generous in-kind contributions and efforts, there was about a 5-fold multi- plier on the money donated. This is incredible in the realm of non- profit efforts. Additionally, the benefits realized to the Warriors (and also to the guides and other participants) were very significant.

As I mentioned before, we are planning at least two trips next year, with a stretch goal of three trips. This could be as many as 72 Warriors, family members, and caregivers. We learned quite a bit on this inaugural trip of 17 participants. We will invite more therapists, as we learned that the relaxing river trip setting is very conducive to opening up and interacting with the therapists, while giving the therapists greater insights into their patients and their issues. The trip will be alcohol-free. We will encourage more communal activities and gatherings. We will begin the trip at the motel with a BBQ and social gath- ering after the pre-trip briefing on the evening before the launch.

I hope you all got a thank-you note signed by all of the Warriors. If you did not receive one, email me and I’ll make sure you do. Also, if I neglected to include you in any of the previous 4 newsletters, let me know.

Thanks again for your wonderful support. I hope you can continue to support this much needed and highly effective effort in the future.

Best of regards, Fred

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Posted on Aug 1, 2011 in Newsletters | 0 comments

Newsletter #4

Newsletter #4

Hello, all of you that made this trip possible. Many thanks.

The 4 day Wounded Warriors Canyonlands Whitewater Trip was a great success, exceeded my expectations of the positive impact it had on the Warriors. The river was great, Tag-A-Long’s guides were splendid, the Park much appreciated.

I’ve attached a group picture and a pic of Marine Sgt Chris Fesmire in the front of the SportYak and his service dog behind him, lost both legs above the knees when his HUMMV was blown up, killed everyone else.

Another of the Marines said that his trip has now given him an- other reason to live. And it was a sea change for two from Pocatello who had been reclusive for a number of years, now feel that they want to get out into the world, planned a motorcycle ride together and other activities as soon as they got back. Another said that he didn’t realize that people cared about the Wounded Warriors.

The comments from the participants are trickling in.

“I felt part of a team again, I would recommend this trip to every vet who thinks they have nothing going for them. I am extremely happy I came.”

“The experience I had these 4 days was beyond incredible.”

Another writes, “For the first time in 5 years I have managed to do something and actually enjoy myself very much, and (it) has given me ambition to other things.”“I have a very hopeful future.”“I believe this has made a big change in my life. A new chapter of hope and happiness.”“I would just like to say this is a very big deal for me.”“It is to replace some bad memories with some good ones. I am eternally grateful for this trip.”

“I can’t recall a time in years that I’ve had as much fun or felt so welcome.”

“Many guys have opened up since day one, talked about the pro- gram and the amazing changes and positive effect it has had.”

“This week has been an amazing experience. It was a great opportunity for me to watch my husband bond with other veterans.”“I feel this trip provided me the opportunity to get a deeper perspective of combat veterans and now I hope to be a better support to my husband due to the lessons I learned from these guys this week.”

“It was great to spend time w/others & know there’s so many others like me. Staff was great.”“This really was a chance of a lifetime for us.”“I really hope this program takes off; it would be a great recovery, especially w/spouses to reconnect.”

“I am enthused by the comments I heard, stating that this trip felt like a jumpstart for them, and because of the fun they had, they are now interested in other recreation the VA provided.”

Again, thanks. We intend this next year, only bigger and better. My stretch goal is 3 trips of 3 Js, up to 72 Wounded Warriors. We’ll see how the funding and the Warriors response goes. I think we’ll definitely have two trips.

We will have a web site up in sev- eral months that will have info on the whitewater trips and contact and signup pages;

Yours, Fred


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