Hello all, my name is Adam Dresden. I am the coordinator for the Heartland Chapter of Heroes on the Water and I was asked to share my story as a disabled veteran and what helped me. My journey spans over about the last thirteen years so I will try to keep it short…
For as long as I can remember growing up all I wanted to be was a soldier. There was a small stretch of time that I thought maybe Air Force but what I really wanted was to be a Green Beret so I joined the Army. When I joined, my one and only goal was to earn that Green Beret and be a Warrant Officer. We had a close family friend that I grew up calling Uncle Chuck and he was the inspiration for that career goal as he was a CW5 with 7th Special Forces. After joining the Army in 99 I did my basic, AIT, Airborne school and then went straight to 7th Special Forces attached to a support company. Uncle Chuck was still there so that made the experience all that more cool!
After spending about two years attached to 7th group and the majority of my time training and preparing for the Q course I was ready to send in my packet for selection. That old saying of 10 foot tall and bulletproof was pretty much how I felt at that point and I knew in my heart that nothing could stop me… Unfortunately that was not the case and in April of 2001 I was injured in a parachuting accident. The list of injuries I sustained from that jump is pretty long but the main injuries were to my back and knees. After one surgery that didn’t go very well I pretty much knew that my plans for SF were over. When my contract was up I decided not to reenlist in the active Army and signed up for National Guard instead. When I reported to my guard unit it had already been decided that I could no longer serve due to my injuries so I was discharged from the Guard without ever serving a day.
I returned to the work I was doing before my enlistment which was carpentry. I was able to last about two years with the same company but with the amount of work I was missing do to pain, doctor’s appointments, and surgeries, I had to stop that as well. After two knee surgeries and little improvement, I fell into a pattern of playing video games all night and sleeping all day. I didn’t have a lot of friends and the fiends that I did hang out with were more drinking buddies. I was told by doctors that I had severe depression but I refused any treatment and didn’t feel like I had a problem. At that time there didn’t seem to be much to look forward to in life and about the only thing I cared about was drinking and playing my Xbox.
While playing my Xbox games I had found a group of people that I played with almost religiously. The biggest part of that group was a family from Calgary Alberta… A father, mother, daughter and son all played at the same time. Of that family the one I connected with the most was Roy Eddy, the father. Roy and I did a lot of talking and the conversations were normally about fishing and the great outdoors. Of course I was no longer Airborne but more Chairborne… In the spring of 2004 Roy decided to drive the 21.5 hour trip down to make me go fishing. If memory serves me correct I believe he did this without even telling me he was coming. I think I received a call when he was only about two hours out and wanted to know where a good motel was for him and his wife. I went out to meet my Canadian friends and he said he came down so I could take him bass fishing. Roy had also brought a fly rod down with him to teach me how to fly fish something I had expressed was a lifelong goal to learn. I really didn’t want to go out but after someone drives almost 22 hours to meet you and go fishing you really don’t have a choice. That one time out turned into a fly fishing trip in Canada and then another trip in Montana. I started fishing more around home too. Now that I was getting out of the house I was starting to make new goals and I enrolled into a college program which led to two AAS degrees and 860 hours of certificate classes. With those two degrees I started my own gunsmithing business that doesn’t do too badly.
It was around 2008 when I purchased my first kayak. I bought the kayak with the intention of using it for exercising. It didn’t take long and I decided to start fishing out of the kayak and quickly fell in love with the sport. In early June of 2013 I purchased a second kayak just so I could take one of my high school buddies who is also currently serving as Active Guard, out fishing. We did a little talking about Chad Hoovers kayak fishing show and I mentioned that he said something about Heroes on the Water. The idea of the program really hit home with me because I was living it. As Jim say’s “Just living the dream”. Fishing and Kayaking was my thing! Another thing making this so important to me was that I recently lost a buddy I served with to suicide so on June 27th of last year I decided that I was going to find a way to have an outing locally. I organized two outings, one in August and another in September. I didn’t have a lot of veterans show up but I knew that the veterans that came were helped and their families were helped as well. In October I was asked to take over the Heartland Chapter and I did so without hesitation.
Now I truly am “Just living the Dream”!!!