What kind of person chooses to volunteer large amounts of time to a non-profit after enduring a sexual assault, major injury and chronic body pain, survives major lung surgery after battling meningitis and epilepsy, and even today struggles some days to get out of bed? That would be a person of fortitude and bravery, like Dawn.
Dawn Martin, recently appointed chapter coordinator for the Heroes on the Water chapter at Brooks Army Medical Center, has spent a lifetime in service. Starting at 18 years old, she left her friends and family behind to join the Navy – not an easy thing to do, particularly for a young person.
As we close in on North Texas Giving Day, it’s time to think about making a major impact for those who have given so much. The brave men and women who contribute large portions of their lives to keeping us free, ensuring we can practice whatever religion we choose, speak out against those who might oppress us, and even show up to rescue us during natural disasters.
These heroes come home to world that often feels foreign. They return with physical injuries and mental disabilities that inhibit their ability to return to a civilian life. Let’s provide them hope!
In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, it’s difficult for many to think about communities being healthy. There are so many displaced, so much devastation – and yet, there is so much hope, kindness and support that it helps us to feel the strength of our community.
Our brothers and sisters are at the top of our minds, and as we reach out to ensure everyone is safe, we continually find stories of heroism – although they don’t think of it that way. Our volunteers and veteran community jumped into action, whether it was helping a person’s grandmother get out of her flooded home to serving food for the multitude of first responders in the area, they are doing what they always do for us – serve.
Heroes on the Water serves these men and women through our therapeutic kayak fishing experiences. Not because it’s fun, not because it’s outdoors, but because it works. These events support our veterans and their families in getting back on track through proven outdoor eco-therapy and camaraderie. We support them, and now they can support you.
That is the power of service. The ripple effect of a person who believes in serving God, country, family and community. And that is why we are so proud to serve these brave men and women. They are ready to show up regardless of the situation.
When Jennifer Nolan enlisted into the Navy at 17 years old, she intended to make that her lifelong career. However, two years into her service, she became pregnant, and realized that her life plans were going to change.
Today she still utilizes her Navy training as a photographer, but her life is much different.
“Even though my time in the military was not long, I found meaningful friendships. The military became my family, and even today I feel aligned with my fellow veterans,” said Jennifer. “When I was looking for a way to stay connected and found Heroes on the Water, I knew I had to get more involved.”
As many of our veterans and active-duty military, Jennifer has struggled with depression and anxiety. Volunteering with Heroes on the Water has created an outlet for her and her family while supporting her in healing herself.
As we celebrate another Independence Day, the subject of freedom is top of mind. Everyone has a different idea of freedom, which is exactly what the men and women fought for so bravely all these years – the freedom of choice. Recently, we caught up with Steve Graff, chapter coordinator for East Texas, and asked him what freedom means to him.
“That’s a tough question right now. I am not an outwardly political person, but it gets harder not to be in today’s climate. The whole freedom thing to me it means protect my borders, feed my hungry take care of my infrastructure and get out of my way.
“Freedom is a tricky concept because it’s different for everyone. For me it’s the right to believe what you want to believe without risk of punishment for those beliefs. Flag burners and protestors don’t bother me at all because I served so they could do that without ending up in Siberia. Does it offend me? Sure! But there’s nothing in our nation’s history or constitution that says you have the right NOT to be offended.