“I never thought I would enjoy the outdoors again,” said one patient from the Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center at Richmond, Virginia’s Hunter Holmes McGuire VA hospital. And yet, despite his injuries, he was able to do just that when Freedom Alliance organized a rafting trip for the polytrauma patients.
Army and Navy service members secure treatment at the rehabilitation center for various medical conditions sustained either stateside or while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. These conditions include physical injuries due to exposure to blasts, as well as psychological suffering, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
The rafting seemed to work wonders for the two polytrauma patients and five veterans from the Servicemember Transitional Advanced Rehabilitation (STAR) program. (The STAR program helps participants transition to new employment, especially combat vets who have sustained amputations.) Three staff members came along to assist.
Another rafter exclaimed, “I haven’t felt so excited in a long time! We need to do this again. Can we come tomorrow?”
In addition to riding out several stage-four rapids, these service members swam and played football in the water. It was an important step in the road to recovery, allowing them to (1) bond with other soldiers living with injuries, and (2) initiate them in enjoying outdoor activities again in spite of their handicaps.
“The trip cleared my head and made me feel alive again,” a participant told us. “I’m going to tell the doctor that the rafting works better than the medication I’m taking.”
A contact from the Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center extended their gratitude: “Once again … from the service members here, we would like to thank Freedom Alliance for their outstanding support and contributions.”
Freedom Alliance team members look forward to meeting a whole new crew of rafters on our next voyage.