It’s a Bond You Cannot Find Anywhere Else
“You go from being part of a brotherhood, to being alone, to being part of a brotherhood again.”
Our warriors are inspiring and brave individuals who put everything on the line for their friends, family, and millions of strangers. It is a selfless and dangerous line of work to volunteer oneself for duty – one that potentially comes with severe side effects.
Most heroes continue to face challenges they must overcome, even after the so-called real battles have ended. They return home unsure of their future, unable to feel they fit in. Frankly, it’s difficult to re-integrate into an environment that is so different. Being in the military gives you focus and purpose. You know exactly what to do from the time you rise until you go to sleep. However, being at home means radically changing even the most basic of routines, in order to “fit in.”
It Ain’t Easy Being the Hero
Meet Ryan- a warrior and a hero. The challenges faced on home soil can be even more difficult to conquer than those from abroad. Ryan was confronted with the same struggles as many of his comrades, regardless of the fact that he came from a military family. His father is a retired helicopter mechanic and his stepmother served in the US Army honorably. Ryan was discharged following an IED explosion. Ryan had one of the better support systems for his situation, one that was familiar with the challenges that arise after military service. Still the difficulties were unavoidable.
“When you are home, everything weighs on you. Can I get a job? Is there anything wrong with me? You start to worry about things you cannot control.”
Finding a place where your strengths and talents are appreciated and best utilized can be difficult to come across. No hero should feel lost or without a purpose in life. Ryan has now found his place of purpose as a Wildland Fire Fighter. He completed intense training and graduated from this selective program, once again allowing him to serve and protect us.
Being Part of the Brotherhood – Again
Heroes on the Water reunites likeminded warriors, creating an environment teeming with support and understanding. The powerful bonds these service men and women develop are unlike anything most civilians would understand. By bringing these individuals together, they are reminded of the strength they possess and the willpower they obtain that allows them to excel at anything they are faced with.
Even though Ryan was surrounded day in and day out by the comfort of his military family, he is reminded how large the brotherhood actually is when he attends any HOW event. Here, strangers are nothing of the sort, but rather long lost comrades that he finally had the pleasure of meeting.
It was his step-mom who introduced Ryan to HOW, and he was immediately a fan.
“It’s just you. All of the worries just disappear…there is nothing to worry about. Once you are on the water your only decision is ‘do I want to fish?’”
Ryan was honored that one of the warriors he recently met at a HOW event attended his recent graduation.
“The more you go, the more veterans you meet. Then you get the opportunity to introduce other vets to HOW. It’s something that gives me a sense of pride – being part of HOW. It’s like being part of a brotherhood, to being alone, to going back to the brotherhood again.”
Warriors Deserve Much More Than A Salute
What greater gift is there than to give a hero the resources and support they need to regain a sense of worth? The truth is these service men and women are real life heroes. They deserve a life filled with love and happiness. Although, the warriors are not the only ones who were affected by their service, it is a sacrifice that influences family members as well.
Heroes don’t face these battles alone…so do their loved ones. This therapeutic experience should be extended to all those who might carry a burden. Unlike many other organizations, Heroes on the Water welcomes everyone who is affected by the sacrifices of service – heroes, family, friends, even the family dog. It gives everyone an opportunity to be a part of the brotherhood, and a part of the healing journey.
Ryan is a prime example of a how a simple kayak fishing experience allows our veterans to hit the refresh button and rebuild a quality life that brings them peace and joy. No matter the disability, all heroes who come together through HOW are truly created equal. HOW is an ongoing community, a brotherhood constructed on home soil so that warriors like Ryan can continue to inspire us. You can support this brotherhood with your donations, your volunteerism, and frankly just spreading the word. Here’s to our heroes!