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Group Offers Help to Veterans
About a year and a half ago, I reconnected with an old friend named Amy Simon, who works with an organization called Rivers of Recovery. Rivers of Recovery serves veterans who suffer from physical or psychological wounds. We at The Bensman Group have attended a Rivers of Recovery event in Washington and hosted Amy at a client appreciation event here. We would like to share some information about this worthy charitable effort.
Rivers of Recovery was started in 2008 by Dan T. Cook of Dutch John, Utah. Dan saw a young soldier interviewed on television saying that he wanted people to understand that he was the same person he had been before he went to war, and Dan decided he wanted to find a way to help returning soldiers. He settled on a program based on a personal passion of his -- fly fishing -- and he worked with medical experts to design a program for vets with physical disabilities and especially those with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. He piloted the program with a fly-fishing camp in Dutch John.
Since then, the program has grown substantially. In addition to the camps in Dutch John, Rivers of Recovery runs camps in Jackson Hole, Wyoming; this year they also will offer camps in Arkansas. The organization plans to serve more than 1,000 participants in 2012 and twice that many in 2013, according to Amy. By 2016, they hope to host more than 5,000 veterans a year. They also are expanding to Minnesota, Wisconsin, Colorado and Florida.
Veterans find out about Rivers of Recovery mainly through word of mouth, although they also are referred by Department of Defense and Veterans Administration advocates and the USO, Semper Fi Fund, Wounded Heroes Fund, Wounded Warrior Regiment and Warrior Transition Units, Amy says. Each camp consists of three nights and four days. In Wyoming and Utah, participants camp in tents; in Arkansas, they will stay in a lodge. Rivers of Recovery provides everything from sleeping bags to meals to fishing gear and guides to airfare.
Each camp is limited to six people. “We want to keep it a family feel,” Amy says. “Keeping it small allows the veterans to build relationships.”
A typical camp day begins with yoga and meditation, which help the veterans calm their minds and exercise control that can help them cope with PTSD. Then they fish under the direction of expert guides. Amy says that many of the fishing guides were participants in the programs themselves, and she adds that 20 percent of participants return to the program as volunteer leaders, staff members or guides. “As we expand, more and more participants will come back,” she says.
In addition, many participants stay in touch with each other and with the program through a fellowship network the program maintains. “The program helps them to start building relationships within their own community,” Amy says.
Amy says that the goal of Rivers of Recovery is to make good on a promise to the nation’s soldiers.
“When we send them off to war, we say we will take care of them,” she says. “This is our way of doing this, a way that individuals can make a difference.”
For more information, you can visit the Rivers of Recovery website at www.riversofrecovery.org or contact Amy Simon at firstname.lastname@example.org or 307-413-8113.