Taking time off to give a bit back, and having a great time doing it!
Had the opportunity last weekend to volunteer a bit of time to help out some of our wounded vets from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. "help out" is a bit misleading, because I got to go fishing to do it. I don't normally go fishing but the company on this trip while doing it made giving a bit of my time up well worth it!
The Wounded Warrior Project has been running since 2003 to give our troops a much needed outlet to care, services and opportunities that for too long had not been part of the normal care plan for our deserving troops. This event was by an organization called TAASC, The Adaptive Adventure Sports Coalition, a group that seeks to give disabled individuals access to recreational and adventure activities that would normally not be available to them. By allowing them to participate and accomplish goals in this area, it helps boost their self confidence in themselves and their abilities. I also hopefully gives them the drive to accomplish more than even they themselves would expect from their lives.
The event I participated in was actually a water skiing event, as written about in the Columbus Dispatch article below. How I got involved with fishing goes something like this...A co-worked has an organization that he created on a website called Ohio Game Fishing (www.ohiogamefishing.org), its quite a big and sucessful site. One of his admins had been at a local reservoir and had run into some people from TAASC who informed him of the event. He volunteered OGF to provide some fishing fun for the vets, my friend, Brandon, posted it on FaceBook, I saw the post and volunteered...and that's about that.
The vet we took out on Brandon's boat was Denis Oliverio, a Marine Tank Platoon Leader who was shot in the left arm back in 2005 while engaged with insurgents in Iraq. The round that hit his arm did extensive damage and 5 years later and after many surgeries he still does not have full use of it. Despite this and some PTSD issues he manages to hold down a job helping engineer and design a replacement helo for the aging Sea King fleet used by the US Navy and Marines as well as work with the WWP to get the word out to the public about their mission. When talking to him I knew he was the "real deal" when he told me that his biggest worry after his injury wasn't for himself, but of how his Marines would be looked after and their welfare with him gone. That is how a good leader thinks and anyone that can operate at that level when their arm is nearly severed has got the ship pointed in the right direction to reclaim their life. Most of all, he was a great guy to hang with for a few hours. In typical military fashion there were plenty of fart and penis jokes to go around. You can click on his photo to the left to read his story from the WWP web site.
So all in all I had a great time. I am going to contact WWP to see if there are any other events in and around Central Ohio that I could help with. It's ironic that my year overseas was spent tracking and confirming these same service members who returned to our country with broken bodies and sometimes broken minds. I think that maybe I owe them more than just my respect and some more of my time to properly thank them for their sacrifice. And if I can have fun doing it all the better!
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