You Can Help Take A Veteran Boating

Photo of veterans enjoying a boat outing

BoatUS Magazine has contacted many great organizations around the country to learn more about how to connect boaters with people in the military and veterans who would like to experience the freedom and fun of getting out on the water on a boat.

Programs that invite active-duty and retired military men and women out for a day of boating or sailing are offered by organizations such as local community sailing centers, or Power Squadrons, as well as veterans' organizations. Google these organizations in your area, and explore their websites to find out what they have on their schedules, or just give your local branch a call to see how you can participate.

More prevalent across the country, however, are several successful boating programs dedicated specifically to service members who have been wounded, are ill, or who have been injured. "Wounded, ill, and injured" is a specific term that comes from the military services themselves, explains Brian Coyle of the United Service Organization (USO), "It's been used a lot and is a catchy phrase. But the broader term ‘wounded, ill, and injured' includes many more people who, while serving honorably, have become impacted in some way."

Recently the USO has become involved in reaching out to this population of veterans, specifically with an event called Warrior Week, in Virginia Beach, Virginia, which took place this summer. Below you'll find more information about Warrior Week, as well as the national non-profit organizations and people who helped to make it a success. The USO is beginning to work with other non-profit organizations around the country as well, for similar collaborative events, to help bring these marine experiences to our troops and their families. Here are examples and contact information:

Warrior Week

Bringing together various physical, therapeutic, and recreational organizations from across the country focusing on the rehabilitation of wounded service members, Warrior Week 2014, the first event of its kind, included adaptive water skiing, kayaking, coastal fishing, surfing, and other sports.

The individuals and organizations that partnered with Warrior Week all welcome your call about how you can volunteer, or get more involved in your area, or how you can help create an event with your local boating organization. Here is a contact list:

Sailing

Betsy Alison
US Sailing Head Coach
betsalison@ussailing.org

Ben Poucher
Merchant Marine Academy – Sailing Foundation
benpoucher@gmail.com
269-598-7119

Water Skiing

Two Top Mountain Adaptive Sports Foundation
Mercersburg, PA
Bill Dietrich, Executive Director
bill@twotopadaptive.org
www.twotop100k.org
(717) 507-7668

Kayaking

Heroes On The Water
Tom VanderHeiden
757-575-5076
Tom.V@HeroesOnTheWater.org

In addition, the following organizations, located in various states, have powerboating, sailing, fishing, and outdoor programs for wounded, ill, and injured service people. Visit their websites, and give them a call to see how you can help:

Veterans Ocean Adventures

Creates opportunities for veterans to experience the healing power of water, through diving, kayaking, open-ocean sailing, fishing, and sunset sails. Located in Miami, Florida, VOA is an all-volunteer organization that also offers boating experiences and lessons for veterans in the Florida Keys and, soon, in the Bahamas.

Branson Rector
Founder and Executive Director
www.VeteransOceanAdventures.org
(305) 389-6328

Hope For The Warriors

For adaptive and therapeutic sports, their Outdoor Adventures Program includes sailing, and they offer four sailing clinics across the country. www.HopeForTheWarriors.org

Blue Water Warriors

Offers boating trips to injured veterans, on a custom-built powerboat adaptable for wheelchairs, as well as a variety of activities and locations from Annapolis, Maryland, to the Bahamas.

Sail To Prevail

For 30 years, this Newport, Rhode Island, based organization has created opportunities for disabled veterans, children, and adults to overcome adversity through therapeutic sailing.

Paul Callahan
Executive Director
PaulCallahan@SailToPrevail.org
www.SailToPrevail.org

Shake-A-Leg

Based in Miami, Florida, the mission of this community boating center is to use the marine environment to improve the health, education, and independence of adults and children, veterans with disabilities, as well as disadvantaged youth and their families.

Harry Horgan
Executive Director
www.ShakeALegMiami.org
(305) 858-5550 

— Published: August/September 2014


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