Micah offers injured vets an outdoor challenge – and new friendships

They don’t come just to fish for 60-pound sturgeon on the Columbia River, or hunt elk in a Montana wilderness, or climb picturesque Mt. Rainier.

These injured military veterans, some of whom have lost a leg or an arm or their sight, also come for the camaraderie, the friendship. “Recreational therapy” is only part of the cure.

Micah ClarkCamp Patriot, a nonprofit group started by Micah Clark in 2006, gives a hand up to injured US military veterans who are struggling by helping them make new friends while on outdoor adventures.

The program’s motto is “giving back to those who have given.”

Mr. Clark, a US Navy veteran, sees Camp Patriot as a way of paying off a debt to those who were injured as they fought to protect the United States.

“The only reason our country’s documents mean anything is because these guys signed their name to a blank check to the United States government that says ‘up to my life, I’ll defend those documents,’ ” Clark says. “Without someone picking up a weapon and standing post, those papers are [worthless]. I say why don’t we support these guys.”

The 140-plus veterans who have gone on Camp Patriot outings receive a psychological boost, a lift that leaves them saying in amazement “I can do that!” Then they ask themselves “What else can I do?”

In June, Clark organized a three-day event on the Columbia River that included fishing and a 24-mile kayaking trip.

Dominic Ferraro, one of the four veterans on the trip, often chatted as he paddled along the chilly and swift Columbia River about 30 miles outside Richland, Wash. As he soaked up the scenery, including the beautiful rolling hills that rise above the river, conversation with fellow vets began to flow, too.

“You can feel at ease,” says Mr. Ferraro, who lives in Walla Walla, Wash. “I enjoy just coming back to hang out and talking with guys who are like-minded. There’s a camaraderie.”

There’s also a sense that he’s just with friends, not being observed by counselors.

source : http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Making-a-difference/2014/0807/Micah-Clark-offers-injured-vets-an-outdoor-challenge-and-new-friendships

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