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Comments from the June 2011 inaugural whitewater trip

One of the Marines said that his trip has now given him another reason to live. And it was a sea change for two PTSD sufferers from Idaho 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.

“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 program 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 + 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 just wanted to thank you for all your help and support, sir, and can’t wait until next year to take the trip with you. It is very rare to meet people who truly care for our vets the way you showed me and I am very grateful Thank You”

From one of the therapists, “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.”

From one of the crew: “I HAD THE BEST TIME ..!!! I really had alot of fun and good experience on the tour…  I’m so glad the warriors loved it…its very exciting to see what a success..!!!!  Thank you for having me along ..it was truly an honor and i learned alot about these wonderful men who have sacrificed so much…!!!  i  hope i can be a part of this in the future and also help to do more things to help the wounded warriors.”.

From one of the guides: “Fred, Thanks for these written comments. I was sitting in Washington DC when I got them and actually had to excuse myself from the group when I read them because of the well of emotion that sprang up. These notes are so great…”

We are so happy that the trip was such a success.  Reading those notes from the guys brought tears to my eyes.  It breaks my heart that there are great men who fought for our country that have been knocked down so low.  I hope you realize what you have done for them, and I am so grateful for all those who have helped us in similar ways.  We really wouldn’t be where we are if it weren’t for the love and support of so many people- many of them complete strangers.

Comments from the June 2012 whitewater trip

Miracles happen on the river. New perspectives, greater vision for life goals, a chance to discover new sprouts of hope within.  …able to link their new commitment to life specifically to this trip down Cataract Canyon.

I am a PTSD Psychologist who had the opportunity to accompany several combat veterans on a recent raft trip. So often, the work I do with veterans involves having them identify their problems and focusing upon painful aspects of their lives. It was so rewarding to see veterans who normally isolate and are often caught up in their head and traumatic memories, to get to laugh, bond with other veterans, and be reminded of their strengths and passions.  I think that it is the happiest that I have seen some of these veterans in years. The impact of this trip goes beyond a few days of fun, as I have also observed the participants utilize this positive experience as a jumping off point for getting reconnected with the outdoors and be more willing to try new things in the months afterward.

From the participants:

Thank you, it was fantastic truly amazing experience. I am extremely grateful for your organization.

Personally, I have had a life changing experience and plan to use the trek as a springboard for the future.

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to spend time with such amazing people and other veterans.  ..the guides were incredible and the scenery was like nothing I have ever seen. We have made some amazing friends, which will be life long.

The stars are amazing!!  I think this is a great therapeutic tool for vets.

Wanting to heal. Needing to heal. Tired and worn down from not healing.

I have been very pleased to watch the veterans with us who live with obvious physical disabilities every day, to be able to witness their drive and determination to get out and enjoy life the best they can demonstrates to me they still have the “Warrior Spirit.”

Lyndon told me yesterday that the trip was the best in his life.

Awesome guides, awesome people – awesome rapids and beauty.

I can’t thank you enough for the friendship you gave me and the memories, I will cherish them for the rest of my life… And if you ever need anything from this end of the pond, then just call, text or email me.

From the guides and swampers:

These Wounded Warriors are my heroes – inspiring – uplifting – as they share their stories – strength and hope, it becomes clear that the human spirit will survive.

I think every TAG Cataract guide wants to be a part of this trip because we so appreciate the sacrifices these men and women have made the USA and the World a better place.

Comments from the July 2012 whitewater trip

I do not have the words to describe my gratitude . .surely an amazing adventure. All of the anxiety and stress from work and home diminished.

I’m glad that there are still great Americans that will take the time to be out here with us.

I didn’t know people cared.

Everyone’s compassion and positive attitude is inspiring.

Getting to know everyone & watching individuals come out of their shells as the week progressed was truly amazing. The Tag-A-Long crew were awesome, skillful, & knowledgeable, and made this trip a memorable experience.

I especially liked the organization of it all and the kindness everyone showed me was phenomenal.

I know I will be talking about it for the next years.

This is my second year on the trip and I can’t think of anything I would rather do. .. I feel that after these days we’ve become friends, family, a real blessing.

The rafting captains were very professional and their expertise was great and their leadership astounding.

Outstanding trip. The crew did an excelled job in all regards.  ..  Thanks for caring.

I don’t know what to say….

I really enjoyed the time we were able to relax in nature and spend time making new friends, sharing stories, and laughing and reconnecting with old friends. I will never forget this trip, thank you.

The staff is fantastic. Never let Sonny go. The work ethic of the staff, with the sole purpose of making our experience enjoyable, is so refreshing and welcoming. Please don’t change a thing, the therapy came from the canyon and wonderful people.

I had a fantastic time reconnecting with my “Battle Buddy!” The Tag-A-Long crew was awesome!!. Chow was on the spot, and Russ was extremely considerate.

The fellowship of the staff and other service members helping me to relax and enjoy this 4 day trip was worth it and (it) is truly safe to go outside. I’ve spent many days and nights inside my house not wanting to go out.

For those planning on attending a future trip, please come on and go. You will have the time of your life. I forgot to take my medicine a few times and not once had any issue out on the river, unlike back in town.

What I’ve figured from all this is … to help folks find the center again.