I was deployed to Iraq in 07-08 with the local 107th Engineer Co. in Sadr City, Iraq Operation Gold Rush. During Route Clearance Mission with the 1138th Engineer Sapper Company, Where I sustained multiple blast injuries (TBI) from enemy IEDs/EFPs (Improvised Explosive Devices/Explosive formed projectiles) Combat Stress/PTSD, Traumatic Arthritis, etc..
These injuries impact my life on a daily basis and have completely changed my life.
Upon returning home I liked to ride my motorcycle but on this day I ended up with broken/Cracked vertebrates, broken ribs, collapsed lung adding onto the already difficult task of recovery from war.
This put me in a wheelchair for many years after and completely deflated myself as a Soldier, human, man, father, son. The wheelchair was used to help me recover and not have to physically move so much to help with the pain. Limitations..Learned to push further past each finish line perpetually moving it forward each time pushing into the pain threshold not many know unless you’ve walked a similar path. In the midst of my darkness Nate Denofre called me to let me know what Courage Inc had to offer. It was a inspirational conversation as he was walking across the UP or just finished..Told me about his Organization that takes Disabled people On Camping/Fishing/Hunting/Hiking trips. I had been on a few with other Veteran organizations and signed up to see what he was talking about first hand.
Now I grew up on 40 acres in northern WI, hunting, fishing, four wheeling just didn’t know what I was missing from Mother Nature until then.
After the first trip Fishing on one of the most pristine waterfalls the UP has to offer. Granted the rain put a damper on some of the trip but nothing I hadn’t already been through in which wasn’t really noticeable because of the surrounding beauty and positive ions. I caught a few fish even but chose not to keep and set back. Unbeknownst to us This was a trend for years to come I went home sore, swollen, stinky, head pounding neck throbbing but a smile on my face in and my heart for the first time in a Long time. I Was Hooked..
Because of Nate and Team Courage Incorporated; That winter I drove myself and sometimes my 2 children to go River ice fishing which I probably won’t ever do again without proper gear. A renewed peace I hadn’t felt in a long time was delivered to my soul each time I went out.
Then during the days of recovering or bad pain days to come in the future I have good memories to help drown out the bad ones if that’s possible thats what I’m going for.
Although I continue to struggle daily with life, my surroundings don’t we all? What do we do? We continue to fight. Might be a slower fight but still a fight worth fighting. Too many of our brothers and sisters have ended their own struggles, sometimes I understand them completely. Other days I wish I could have taken them to a waterfall/fishing hole.
Now by this time Nate and I have become very good friends, we’ve camped all around the UP, fished lakes with no fish in them that had fish in them;) watched the Sunrise to the east and watched it set in the west only driving a mile, tent cities arise in the middle of nowhere so we kept driving until it was quite, two tracking in the porkies.
Not to mention all the waterfalls and new places I discovered alone because of the wanting to continue to discover more and knock off the bucket list and add to it.
Now we set out on the biggest adventure yet. The Mississippi. From Middle of Minnesota where it starts in the cattails to the salty bayou of the Gulf. 2500+ miles by way of canoe.
Raising awareness for Courage Incorporated and the never ending Post traumatic Stress, Traumatic Brain Injuries our Veterans coming home with even to this day.
Stop the 22 a day! Please donate for our great cause and help us get down the river in a bit more comfort than Mark Twain. Anything is appreciated!
Also if you live on or near the Mississippi River and able to help us Portage around the many damns in Minnesota we are seeking Volunteers as well. I’ve reached out to some friends that are willing to help but we would love any further assistance we can get.