Paddling Their Way to Recovery

I knew paddling could be fun, adventurous, and a useful tool for physical balance and team building. However, I never thought about paddling as therapeutic . . . until I watched the following video.

Excerpt of Article Written by John Hollis | Belvoir Eagle

Staff Sgt. Adam (who requested his full name not appear), Warrior Transition Battalion, has endured his share of challenges since suffering a traumatic brain injury from the improvised explosive device that nearly killed him in 2006 while [he was] serving in Iraq.

Adam says Team River Runner [TRR] and its therapeutic paddle sports program is partially responsible for his recovery. Using kayaks, canoes, inflatable kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, TRR promotes free “health and healing” for service members bouncing back from life-altering injuries such as post-traumatic stress, TBI, amputations, spinal cord injuries, sight impairment, and other disabling wounds.

Adam was among the handful of recovering service members, veterans and Family members who braved the waters of the Potomac River for a soothing kayaking excursion from Fort Belvoir to Mount Vernon.
A non-profit organization founded at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in 2004 with the intent of providing services to the nation’s wounded servicemembers, veterans and their Families; TRR has grown to nearly 50 sites at or close to other Department of Defense and Departments of Veterans Affairs locations.
Fitted with adaptive technology and equipment that has been crafted to fit the needs of each individual participant, TRR seeks to enhance the quality of life of the returning Soldiers and their families with the kind of inner peace that new experiences and adrenaline-producing challenges in the water can provide.
“We’re not teaching these guys to be sailors,” said John Deitle, the Fort Belvoir chapter’s rising coordinator and also a retired Marine. “We’re teaching them to get back into life and be productive again. We do it with water-paddle sports.”

Retired Navy Cmdr. Tom Womble, TRR’s Director of Instruction, has been volunteering his time to the program since 2006. He called the water-paddle aspect of the returning Soldiers’ rehabilitation “crucial” to their continued recovery.



Click here to read another Beyond Injury post.

2014-1119 White Water Rafting with Vest and HelmutThanks to Staff Sgt. Adam for sharing his story; John Hollis for writing the article; Belvoireagle for committing its resources to publishing the article; Walter Reed National Medical Center for making Team River Runner possible; Team River Runner for providing its services to wounded vets; Check Six for supporting Team River Runner; Google for helping me find the article; and all others who, directly or indirectly, made it possible for me to include the picture, video, and text I used in this post.

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