Women Warriors Outdoors
Our Women Warriors Outdoors program provides a place for or nations Mothers, daughters, sisters and
friends a place to heal from serving on the battlefields of war throughout the world. Most come from throughout the intermountain west. Arriving at Strawberry Reservoir from metropolitan centers, to the smallest of communities of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. Women are bonded together by a remarkable thread, they were all Wounded Warriors, women who have served our country on the battlefield and all have paid a great price.
During the next three days together enjoying the outdoors, fishing the reservoir and the river, camping and cooking with the fires of charcoal with dutch ovens and relaxing around the campfires in the clear mountain air. They came in search of healing and rest and we were there to help them if we could.
This was to be an all Women Wounded Warrior Project retreat and American Heroes Project and Hand in Hand Outdoors was honored to host it. Our mission is to provide therapeutic and healing outdoor activities for our nations Women Wounded Warrior and Disabled veterans. Although there are few women veterans aboard our boats during the course of a year, it’s always perfect opportunity to fulfill our mission with an often forgotten portion of our nation’s veterans………the women who serve in our military with honor and valor.
Volunteers gather to assist
Besides the more than a dozen women attending there are nearly that many volunteers who would join the group at different times during the events, fly fishing instructors, maestros of dutch oven cooking and instruction, support boats with captains, guest speakers who would travel many miles to pay homage to these women, a beautiful female vocalist and a small cadre of executives representing veterans service organizations and state businesses. All gathered to thank these valiant women.
Although they don’t know one another before they meet at the reservoir it wasn’t long until they are bonded together as they were trained to during their time in the military as sisters in arms. On the battlefield your life can depend on your brother or sister in arms and this camaraderie is engrained in all that wear our nation’s uniform.
It was their time
This was their time, their event and we stayed away, coming together only at meal times. On one occasion I heard just portions of their conversations as they discussed their lives, families, children and careers in the military. Names of locales where they had served filled the fragments of conversations I heard; Bagdad, Mosul, Ramadi and others brought a solemnness to their talk. I wondered what horrors they had experienced, what injuries they suffered. I knew from the time I have been aboard our boats that there is healing in talking about their experiences on the battlefield. Often there is no one they can share their experiences with except those who have been in battle. One who has never experienced war’s horrors can never understand what it does to you. Simply sharing those memories with someone who understands helps heal. This is why we honor and put on Women Warriors Outdoors Program; to benefit from the time on the water, to share repressed memories, find new friends who understand what they have gone through and to escape the chaos of the cities and replace it with the stillness of the mountains.
One final evening we gathered at the pavilion. A huge meal was prepared for the women, volunteer staff and guests. As we sang our nations anthem a mountain breeze threatened to unfurl the many flags that surrounded the event and the pavilion became a sacred place as one guest speaker after another arose to express their gratitude for everything these women had given in liberties name. The black inkiness of night failing as a million stars and a cosmic cloud attempted to illuminate the night skies.
As all good things much come to an end, we were excited on the impact this program had on our Wounded Women Warriors. Checking out from the lodges was accomplished and we gathered for a final breakfast and to say goodbye. We talked together of future events and locations where we might gather again one day and all promised to stay in touch as more than one tear was shed. Those of us from American Heroes Project and Hand in Hand stayed another day to break down our camp and as we reflected on the days we had shared with these remarkable women we are proud that we had been given the opportunity to tell them how much their service to our country means to us personally and to our community and how much we admire and love them. The sadness we feel at their departure is only brightened by the visions of meeting once again on high mountain lake or alpine river. God blesses us by giving each of us the opportunity to serve those who have given so much for our country. We shall never forget them.