TRIP NEWS / UPDATES
Our GRAND CANYON WARRIORS trip is the Cover Story on the American LEGION MAGAZINE
DR. BILL KRISSOFF JOINS OUR TEAM!
WHAT OTHERS HAVE SAID....
GRAND CANYON WARRIORS, Rafting Trip #3
This past summer, August 2018, we launched our third trip and final trip with 26 Army, Navy, and Marine Corps veterans, three of them women.
Once again we had an incredibly successful trip. We started our trip with a blessing from our friend and Hopi priest Marvin Talayumptewa, - “SLOW WALKER”. He encouraged us to let the river cleanse us of our demons and renew our spirits. He has participated in each of the trips and his presence adds a spiritual element that has been very important to all our participants.
As our intro-video on past trips shows, these trips are life-changing experiences for all involved and this one was no exception. In keeping with the character of our organization, every trip is chartered through a licensed Grand Canyon River Outfitter. These longer than normal motor trips are especially geared for our passengers, almost all of whom have had physical wounds that are healed but who are still suffering the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury.
On each trip we are careful to take veterans who would truly benefit from this experience. Although these veterans did not know one another they bonded almost immediately because they had a common background and a shared combat experience, and we reinforced that bond. We provided a day packed full of activities that made these vets pull together and we assigned them to work details in camp each night/morning, nothing difficult, but all essential. And, we had a paddle raft for small teams to conquer the rapids!
As we said, these trips are “life changing.” A mother wrote to tell us, “I know of no other project that has had such an incredible impact.” A wife told us, “This trip has not only saved my husband’s life, but it has saved our family.” But perhaps the best comment was what one Marine said to a Colonel at the Wounded Warrior Regiment, “Sir, it was frigging epic!”
We would like to close by telling you ONE story from this summer’s trip that will warm your heart and let you know that your donation was well spent.
After falling out of the paddle-raft and being pulled under by the strong current that kept her submerged for almost a minute, a female Marine who had been suicidal for the past seven months said,
Looking to the Future:
Each time we ran a trip we tried to improve the experience, but along the way we also learned what we could do better. Ten-day trips require a two week commitment, which is difficult to make for a veteran who is just getting his or her life back together, and it prevented some really deserving candidates from joining us. Departing from a bustling city like Las Vegas was overwhelming for many of our veterans who have to cope with PTDSD and TBI. Many deserving candidates declined our offer because we were not able to accommodate their service or companion dogs, and many women declined our offer because most of our passengers were men. Perhaps most important of all, Grand Canyon trips are really expensive. Even with donations of gear and services, and discounts from outfitters and suppliers, our three trips cost an average of over $85,000 each.
Since we started we have been sharing ideas with Fred Solheim at Warriors on Cataract Canyon (link). His organization runs a trip very similar to ours on the Upper Colorado River, above Lake Powell. It is a very similar experience, just on a different stretch of river. Warriors on Cataract sponsors about four trips a year, thirty to date. Their trips run out of Moab, Utah, and only require a one-week commitment. Some of the Warriors on Cataract trips are for special groups, and some are all-female trips. Their trips accommodate dogs, wheel chairs, all manner of disabilities, and sometimes family members. Best of all, they can take 25 veterans down the river for less than $18,000!
So, GCRRA is passing the hat to Warriors on Cataract, and the Focus Marines Foundation will work with them to help identify appropriate candidates. GCRRA is also donating our excess Grand Canyon Warriors funds to them and we encourage you to donate to their trips as well (link https://focusmarines.org/get-involved/donate/). Like GCRRA, Warriors on Cataract will spend all your money on their trips, no salaries, no overhead!
Warriors on Cataract is a great match and they will insure our efforts continue. GCRRA thanks all our past contributors for making our three Grand Canyon Warriors trips possible, and we are excited about the programs future!
Thank You and Semper Fi!