Ray Queen comes from a family that has served our country and community for decades. His grandfather was in WW II, his cousin was in the Army, and his mother was a dispatcher for the police, just to name a few. As he puts it, he grew up in camouflage.
“GI Joe was my hero. The only thing I ever wanted to do was serve my country,” says Ray.
9-11 simply solidified for Ray that his desire to be in the military was something that had to happen. He remembers vividly the details of that day. What is particularly noble is Ray’s thoughts on why he had to enlist, particularly his ideals of how he had to give part of his life to service to be a real American citizen.
Ecotherapy – a nice term for what many may believe is just a fancy way of saying do cool stuff outside. Nothing could be further from the truth. Howard Clinebell, who wrote the book on ecotherapy in 1996, stated the term refers to healing and growth nurtured by healthy interaction with the earth. This therapy has become more mainstream as people spend more time indoors, and are looking for a way to manage stress, depression and whole host of other issues without the use of drugs or more traditional psychotherapy.
According to an article in Psychology Today, we crave being in nature. It’s in our makeup to want to be outdoors, immersed in the calming effect it brings to us. In today’s societal makeup, the ability to “unplug” is a rare gift – so rare there are entire vacation clubs dedicated to finding ways to unplug and get away. Nature is calming, and gives us a chance to simply be.
It’s Proven – We Need to be Outdoors
When Heroes on the Water first began kayak fishing experiences, we could see and feel first-hand the impact on our warriors. But we really didn’t know why or what was happening.
As we look toward celebrating Thanksgiving in the U.S., it’s nice to see folks focused on being grateful. Whether it’s a social media post, or just simply reaching out to a loved one, many expound on the multitude of things they are thankful for in their lives.
And then there are others.
The reality is that in this country, you have every right to choose. Be thankful or don’t. Be happy or not. Speak out against something you believe shouldn’t happen, or choose to stay silent.
Whether you are the type of person who loves this time of year, or you detest the holidays, you have that right. And those rights are protected by brave men and women who choose to leave their own lives, their own family and the safety of their own homes to give us the freedom to choose.
What If We Didn’t Have the Freedom to Choose?
“It’s a life changing event. After two visits I was able to shift my mindset toward shining a light on what was important.” ~ Ricardo Montalvo discussing Heroes on the Water.
As a veteran, former Border Patrol Agent and family man, Ricardo Montalvo knows life changing events. In telling us his story, there is one thing that stands out about him – he is committed to service.
After researching various branches of the military, Ricardo decided to join the Marine Corps. Although he was only 17, he had a passion to serve his country, and a desire to stand on his own.
“I always liked making my own path. My family are hard-working people who wanted me to have every opportunity, including going to a university,” says Ricardo. “I decided I did not want to be a dependent and joined the Marines.”
As a “Red Patcher,” Ricardo and his team were the second wave and responsible for preparing landing areas. He also took on additionally responsibilities for embarkation as well as becoming a fire team/squad leader. However, another life changing event pulled Ricardo away from the military.
After serving his country, Jeremiah came back a changed man. His memories of recovering downed U.S. military aircraft were all too vivid. In one such recovery, two helicopters had collided in flight. His friends, fellow warriors, had been on board. The experiences caused chronic post-traumatic stress—which, paired with a traumatic brain injury—worsened after his return.
Calming the Storm
Jeremiah needed an outlet to calm the storm. Heroes on the Water provided that. He could surround himself with nature’s best and connect with fellow heroes. “When I’m with another veteran, whenever they’ve been there and they’ve felt it, when they’ve walked that mile in my shoes, they can relate,” he said. “Everybody is accepted. And it gives you a sense of peace that you’re not alone.”
Great things started to emerge. He formed friendships, found peace, reconnected with his family and felt empowered again. “[HOW has] kind of been my bridge to getting back into society,” said Jeremiah. During this transition, he found a new passion in leather crafting, and enjoyed it so much that he started providing leather crafting and laser engraving workshops. Like kayaking, it’s low stress and immensely fulfilling. Now, he teaches and inspires other veterans to learn the craft.
Bringing Families Together
Today, HOW has become a way of life for Jeremiah and his family. “My wife loves it when I go fishing, because I come back a little happier, a little more unwound,” said the hero. “It brings families together, so that they can feel the joy that we do out of this program, too.”
To support warriors like Jeremiah, donate today, September 17, for North Texas Giving Day!