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