Wounded Warriors find strength white water rafting the James River

Published: Jul. 15, 2022 at 3:04 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Wounded Warriors overcame their injuries to take on the James River, thanks to a local non-profit and RVA Paddlesports. The group separated into groups of six to raft down the river for more than an hour while working together to battle any obstacles.

“It beats a day at work, that’s for sure,” said Jason Bennett, a Wounded Warrior. “Just enjoying the rapids, the people; it was a good time all around.”

Wounded Warriors represent men and women who have served in the military and suffered an injury, including those both physical and the invisible. Bennett, one of 20 warriors who rafted down the James, said he served in the Iraq war for almost two decades.

“I got diagnosed with PTSD and some other physical stuff that I hide pretty well,” said Bennett. “I just think it’s great that everyone can get out of their comfort zone a little bit...especially those with mental issues, just get out of their head a little bit.”

A partnership between RVA Paddlesports and non-profit Beyond Boundaries made the trip possible, ensuring that all of the veterans were provided the equipment, the guides, and the expenses in order to tackle the river.

“It was wet, wild, and fun time,” said Shep Roeper, co-director of Beyond Boundaries. “Just the social aspect is huge. The group family supportive vibe - we all can really benefit from it, and that’s something Wounded Warrior really tries to do...and it’s just plain bonding!”

Roeper said moments like this could make the difference for veterans, proving to themselves and the rest of the world that nothing can hold them back.

“There might be a physical adaptation, or it might be a social one. It’s just something that we adapt our mindset to, and we listen to our participants and figure out what the best course of action is for their goals and their needs,” said Roeper.

Copyright 2022 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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