The Sierra Club flew two of the Wounded Warriors and the Recreation Therapist from the raft trip back to Washington DC mid-September to speak to policy makers, legislators on the importance of protecting our public lands and National Parks, and about their experience on the raft trip. It went well. The email report from Stacy Bare of the Sierra Club is included below. Glenn is Fesmire’s service dog; recall that Fes lost both legs to an IED that blew up his HUMMV. WW MSgt Dean Sanchez accompanied Fes and Glenn and his wheelchair and Ostrom into DIA and arranged for a TSA supervisor to accompany them and give them special treatment through the TSA airport security. Glenn flies in the cabin with Fes. Sanchez also arranged for a dress suit to be flown in from California and tailored for Scott Ostrom for the DC trip.
Emily and Dr. Jennifer Romesser of the Salt Lake VA Hospital are responding to a Sierra Club Request for Proposal. This is for grant money to study the benefits to the Warriors of the raft trip by baselining with their experience as their longtime counselors, then observing and interacting with the Warriors on the raft trip, and then observing how lasting the benefits are beyond the trip. University of Michigan is overseeing and analyzing the study. This study fits one of our goals of the whitewater trips; to determine how we are doing and what we can do to maximize the benefits in the future.
Jackie Hueftle, the freelance writer/rock climber that was on the trip, is applying for a second Sierra Club grant to take Wounded Warriors and families on outdoor activities with the goal of training and inducing and inspiring them to then organize and continue on with groups in outdoor activities. It is well known that there are great and broad health and therapeutic values of such outdoor activities.
Colleen Day is authoring the website www.WarriorsOnCataract.org. It is up on the Internet but is a work in progress and in its genesis. It may take some time for the website to be fully populated. We will have a homepage with pictures and our Mission Statements, a page listing and describing and thanking the principals (Tag, Aarchway, VA, etc.), our goals (both of the benefits to the WWs and regarding future trips), news, pictures and stories from raft trips, how funds are spent (100% on implementing the trip, no salaries or overhead allowed), info on Outdoor Buddies and how to con- tribute, a Thank-You page listing donors, a description of the trip so potential participants know what to expect (we had a number of Viet Nam no-shows, probably in part because of the uncertainty coupled with their long history of PTSD), who can go (amputees, wheel chairs, service dogs, family, military service buddies….)
A Q&A page, a page listing and giving links to other resources available to the WWs such as travel support, mental health resources, family aid, and such, contact points for inquiring about this whitewater rafting effort,
A signup page that will include a request for some confidential personal information from the WW so we can assess any special needs Thanks again for your support. Together we are doing a good thing. We are planning to expand to multiple trips next year.