As mentioned before, last sum- mer’s Wounded Warriors raft trip was very successful. All of the participants had experienced some degree of military combat related injury and trauma such as amputations, severe orthopedic injuries, gunshot woulds, burns, pain, traumatic brain injury, post traumatic stress disorder, and depression. The intent of this trip was to help facilitate healing and hope through reintegration, outdoor adventure and camaraderie, and to encourage participants to continue outdoor activities. From this expedition we learned much and came to more fully realize the benefits of such trips and are stirring what we have learned into the planning of the 2012 trips and beyond.
An unexpected additional benefit realized was in the community of the participants that was created by communicating among themselves and the whitewater crew via telephone, FaceBook, and emails, and by joining together in activities. This opening up and bonding of peers by sharing experiences, anxieties, fears, and disabilities is perhaps a step beyond formal therapy, an aspect that is not available to VA Hospital and other therapists. One of my goals is to improve upon and in- crease the benefits of this outdoor experience.
The Sierra Club has now awarded the proposal of Dr. Jennifer Romesser of the Salt Lake VA to study the benefits of outdoor adventures. The formal study is under the control and oversight of the University of Michigan. The $32,000+ award will fund study of three activities in 2012, the Cataract trip being one of them. Dr. Romesser is planning to bring 12 Wounded Warriors and four or more VA therapists on one of next summer’s 4 day raft trips from Moab to Lake Powell. This trip will be furnished free of charge to this study, including motel accommodations before and after.
The mental health professionals in this effort have close-in baseline knowledge of the participants from their treatment and familiarity prior to the whitewater trip, can interact and observe during the trip, and will be able to make a post trip assessment of the benefit over time from their continued therapy. We have learned that the Warriors seek out and interact on an open level with the therapist
in this river trip venue at a level not seen in the more formal VA Hospital setting, and we therefore have come to realize that this environment can be an effective and valuable tool in treating and reintegrating the Warriors.
We have two trips on next summer’s Tag-A-Long Expeditions calendar with launch dates of June 18 and July 2. We are anticipating a third trip, launch date TBD, dependent upon signups and upon funding. Each trip can accommodate up to 24 Wounded Warriors and family members and caregivers.
We still have some funds from last year’s single trip effort to put into this year, but because of the great expansion of this program, will again be asking for support from you all, and hopefully at a higher level. Know that your contribu- tions are magnified by a factor of 4 or 5 because of all of the kind in-kind contributions and the hard work of the organizers. All funds contributed go directly into the effort, with no overhead fees, no compensation to the organizers.
Be sure to visit our web site (still somewhat under construction): www.WarriorsOnCataract.org. There is a nice photo gallery on the site.
Thanks to you all for your support. I wish you all a very good 2012.
Best of Regards, FredRead More