As Andre Jackson reflects on his life’s journey, he shares the pivotal role that Heroes on the Water (HOW) has played in his post-military experience.

Serving as a Sergeant in the US Army from 2000 to 2007, Andre’s transition to civilian life was marked by challenges he didn’t fully understand until he found himself on the waters with HOW.

Introduced to HOW by two current participants, Andre was welcomed into a community that felt like family from the start. His inaugural outing with HOW was a transformative experience, as he navigated the waters with newfound friends who reassured him and guided him through the process of kayaking.

Finding Peace in Unfamiliar Waters

“My first trip out on the water they had to convince me that I was not going to tip over the kayak and just go slow at first.  They were right,” says Andre. “The silence of being out there was soothing, even though there was roughly about 20 of us out on that lake at the time.”

Despite initial nerves, the serenity of the water enveloped him, melting all the stress.

One significant challenge Andre faced was coming to terms with his own PTS. While he was aware of its existence, he hadn’t fully acknowledged its impact on his life until his involvement with HOW.

“The HOW group helped me realize that I needed this float more than I thought. It was a relaxing time, and I could let my mind go blank,” comments Andre. The simple act of being on the water provided a respite from the noise in his mind, allowing him to find moments of clarity and relaxation.

Through shared experiences like kayaking and fishing, Andre has forged meaningful bonds with fellow veterans. He found himself to be calmer and more at ease, thanks to the camaraderie and support he discovered at HOW.

The opportunity to connect with others who understand his journey is invaluable and something he cherishes.

A Simple Message: Just Do

For anyone considering getting involved with HOW, Andre’s advice is simple: “Just do. It will be one of the best times that you will remember for the rest of your life.”

To veterans, first responders, or family members struggling right now, Andre advises reaching out and connecting.

“Chat about some things first, and make sure that they are in a good enough headspace to feel safe enough to talk. We have good folks in the HOW group and additional resources that are able to assist with specific issues,” says Andre.

Whether it’s through organizations like HOW or simply reaching out to a friend, know that you’re not alone. There are people and resources available to help you through difficult times.

Andre expresses his gratitude to HOW: “I appreciate the HOW family and all that they have done for me. They helped me through some dark times, get to light moments, and let my light shine for others too.”

Your journey to serenity starts now – just take that first paddle. Get involved.

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