I have been surrounded by military personnel my entire life. With my dad being retired from the Marines, his friends have always been over at our house on the weekends, for as long as I can remember. It ranged from cookouts, working on projects, fixing and building things, to just hanging out. It is like having a second extended family always around. I am very passionate about helping military organizations that help to better the lives of these men and women, whether they be active duty, retired, or family members of someone who has served.
These men and women put their lives on the line so that we can do things that we love, and in turn, get nowhere near the recognition that they deserve. The main non-profit that I volunteer with is called Veterans Fishing Adventure (VFA). The reason that I love being a part of this program is that 100% of the donations received go directly into funding the boating and fishing trips that take place at no cost for those who have served this country.
All of the volunteers are exactly that, a volunteer, no one is paid. That may sound weird but some non-profits do pay the people who run them, it all depends on the non-profit status that they hold. This organization is a 501c3 nonprofit which means the funds can only go towards their mission, and not towards anything or anyone else.
VFA provides fishing and boating trips out on the Potomac River. It is free and open to all military members and their families, and also has a ramp that allows for wheelchair access onto the boat. This allows for someone who may have an injury or disability to wheel themselves onto the boat with pride and dignity, and not have to be picked up by other people or a machine to lift them onto the boat.
Every time I have helped with a trip, the people that go out always come back with a bigger smile on their face than when they got on the boat that morning. That is the goal, to provide a couple of hours to forget about the “cement blocks” on their shoulders and not have to worry about bills, work, or anything else that may be causing them stress. There is just something about being on a boat and surrounded by nature that always seems to be relaxing.
It is no secret that opioids are being prescribed at an alarming rate in the U.S. military. Hydrocodone and Oxycodone have become the second and third most prescribed pain medication in the Army. In 2008, 20% or 1 in 5 military members reported abuse of opioids within the previous year, and in 2009 physicians in the military wrote over 3.8 million prescriptions for opioids.
Whether they are for pain or for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms they are used at much higher rates rather than other forms of therapy, like Psychotherapy, Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). The American Psychology Association strongly recommends CBT, Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), Cognitive Therapy, and Exposure Therapy. But what if there was another option in addition to or instead of one of these? Something like Ecotherapy, which is interacting with nature to help with healing.
The stigma of a person being weak if they ask for help or go to therapy needs to be eliminated. We see people in the military as strong and unbreakable, but what some people seem to forget is that they too are people just like the average civilians. But for some who still may not want to attend structured therapy something like a fishing or boating trip may be a better option. A majority of the volunteers of this organization are active duty or retired which allows for someone to talk about their time in the service and find things in common, without feeling like they are being pressured to say every detail.
Donating to nonprofits, especially those in which all of the proceeds go directly towards their cause is something that everyone can do. Donating to a non-profit like Veterans Fishing Adventure helps provide gas, fishing equipment, or maintenance costs to help keep the boats running smoothly and continue to be able to take trips out.
If you don’t have the financial ability to donate, something as simple as liking their Facebook page or sharing one of their posts allows you to spread their information to all of your friends on Facebook or other social media. One important thing to remember is to never force someone to talk about an experience and if you are uncomfortable talking about a certain event or situation let the person know and then recommend that they have the same conversation with their doctor or another trusted friend.
Categories: Around Winchester