Fly-fishing can be medicinal. It is one of the outdoor recreational therapy strategies that Rivers of Recovery (www.riversofrecovery.org), a 501c3 nonprofit organization, uses to help combat veterans who have been physically affected, or are suffering from traumatic brain injury (TBI) or post traumatic shock disorder (PTSD). The organization’s program fosters confidence-building through outdoor activities and talk therapy in a relaxed, supportive environment.
In July, MPulse Maintenance Software (www.mpulsesoftware.com), a division of SpecTech, Inc., helped sponsor two fly-fishing trips for combat-wounded veterans on Oregon’s majestic McKenzie River.
The company donated 5% of its May 2013 sales revenues to help sponsor two, two-day trips of six veterans each, and the overall operations of Rivers of Recovery. While it started out as a simple fundraising effort for a good cause, MPulse employees soon became invested in the Rivers of Recovery mission. Jason Johnson, MPulse’s vice president of sales and marketing, began advocating for a fly fishing trip on Oregon’s scenic McKenzie River near the MPulse headquarters — the first time the Rivers of Recovery organization has held trips there.
Johnson reached out to Chris Daughters — owner of Caddis Fly (www.thecaddisfly.com), a Eugene, Ore., fly fishing shop — to organize the trips. Johnson and Daughters worked closely with Amy Simon, executive director of Rivers of Recovery, to ensure the trips followed the therapeutic guidelines set forth by Rivers of Recovery. Each group of six veterans received two back-to-back days of guided fly fishing, which took place July 21-22 and July 24-25, 2014. The river guides were provided by Daughters, who also arranged lodging for the group in his cabin at Loloma Lodge in Blue River, Ore.
The experience was extremely powerful for both the organizers and the participants. “Fly fishing is more than a hobby. It’s Zen meditation — the flowing water, fresh air, sunshine. It’s therapy,” explains Johnson, who is a U.S. Army veteran and fly fisherman himself. “It was truly humbling to join this group of selfless men and women for two beautiful days on the river, and to see the impact the experience had on each of them. The change that happens over two days is miraculous.”
Eugene area veterans Troy Givens, Michael Oreskovic, and Jacob Courtright volunteered as camp hosts for the trips, organizing the food, social activities, and transportation. All three are former participants in Rivers of Recovery trips, and they were well versed in the process and the therapeutic benefits of the program.
“Soldiers come back with scars that aren’t always visible,” said Oreskovic, a U.S. Army veteran. “Rivers of Recovery gives vets a chance to work through difficult experiences and find their sense of purpose and self-confidence again. It made a difference in my recovery, and I wanted to pay it forward with other veterans.”
The veterans weren’t the only ones who came back from the river with a different perspective. Coordinating and participating in the Rivers of Recovery trips also left the organizers galvanized by the experience. “We were inspired by the changes these trips made in the lives of these deserving vets,” Johnson said. “It was great to see firsthand what giving back means. At MPulse we believe in actively supporting the communities where we do business and helping those in need. Our senior leaders are active in Rotary International and our employees receive paid time off for community service, which they use to support numerous worthy organizations. It’s part of who we are.”
Rivers of Recovery was founded in 2008 by Dan T. Cook as a means to help combat veterans overcome the invisible scars of war. In six years, Rivers of Recovery has hosted hundreds of veterans through our unique rehabilitation program. As an industry leader in veterans rehabilitation, Rivers of Recovery utilizes a medically designed curriculum coupled with outdoor recreational activities to treat combat veterans suffering with Post Traumatic Stress (PTS), minor Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI), stress, anxiety, and depression.
Each Rivers of Recovery trip hosts six to ten combat veterans on a science-based, experiential rehabilitation program that focuses on confidence-building, outdoor activities, talk therapy in a relaxed, positive environment and proven techniques on the self-management of symptoms, stressors and responses. Through fly fishing, instruction increases self-confidence, skill-improvement builds empowerment, and achievement facilitates enthusiasm and resiliency.
For more information, visit www.riversofrecovery.org
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