Hello Pagosa Springs,

We citizens can become a little indifferent and possibly even jaded when we hear the excitement in a tourists voice and the smile on their face when they tell us about the awe inspiring natural beauty of the area or some outdoor adventure they have been on.  I don’t know about you but when I travel and meet someone they inevitably ask me where I am from. I proudly declare that, I am a citizen of Pagosa Springs Colorado, USA. One of the most beautiful places in the world. Sometimes they say to me things like “Oh I have been to Pagosa Springs with my family when I was a kid, or my Grandfather used to take me fishing there on the San Juan River, or some other reference to a Norman Rockwell moment stored in their memory banks for ever. When I first arrived here 8 years ago my new neighbor lady said, that this is a healing place if you let it be.  I wasn’t used to people talking like that so I just smiled and remained motionless with that deer in the headlights look in my eyes. But after a little time spent here I began to understand what she was saying to me. They weren’t just pretty words.

This place is special and it has been special for a very long time. I am a history buff and Pagosa has some very interesting history and the part I like most is how the various tribes would share the Spring because it was holy ground and a healing place, and no violence could be committed near Pagosa Springs out of respect for this sacred healing ground and water.

Please allow me to tell you something personal about myself. I am a Combat Veteran myself,  and have suffered with P.T.S.D. and other physical problems for years. My most vivid memories are not of Norman Rockwell images of yesterday. They are memories that can be hard to deal with, they are the images of war and they are with me everywhere I go.  Please don’t think I am looking for attention. Attention makes me uncomfortable and I have a tendency to avoid people and crowds whenever possible. Living almost several miles down river helps me with that.

I don’t know how I ended up being so fortunate but every day I wake up on the river, everyday I see wildlife like Elk, Mule Deer, Bear, Mountain Lions, Fox, Eagles, Wild horses. Everyday the mountains, and the mesas challenge me to a dual and I believe that I have found real treasure. Something to live for… “The American dream” and that is what we military folk have fought to preserve since the founding of our great Nation.

The pursuit of happiness ever before our eyes inspiring quests of adventure with the hope of great reward. The reward we find in living life to the fullest.  Sometimes “We the people” need a little help to set us back on the trail. We can lose site of the pursuit of happiness when the stress of life seems overwhelming. And you don’t have to be a combat veteran to have that shared experience. It is common among us all. But Memorial Day weekend is right around the corner. Many of you will  enjoy spending time with your families, friends, and neighbors. Some of you will enjoy all that Pagosa Springs has to offer and that is what it’s all about. But as you do enjoy please remember those Soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms and who helped to make our freedoms possible. With 14% population of Archuleta County being Veterans it should be easy to find someone to thank for their service.

U.S. military personnel that spend time in stressful and dangerous situations for extended periods and intensity are tested emotionally, physically, and mentally. These men and women have passed the test and have fulfilled an oath taken for the defence of all we hold dear and if they could they would do it again.  They are truly Honorable.

Unfortunately  after service, a high percentage of our returning  vets have a difficult time adjusting to a civilian life where this warrior mentality seems out of place.

The United States service member has suffered the loss of limbs, head injuries, burns, PTSD, carcinogens, toxins, disease, homelessness, incarceration, and every other calamity including death by suicide since we have become a free nation Not to mention the untold thousands that have died wearing the Uniform of the United States.  Too many veterans come home and have a difficult time relating their experiences to loved ones. The returning veteran can often feel disconnected, and disassociated from the world around them. As many as 22 Veterans commit suicide every day. This is unacceptable and must always be unacceptable. We may not be able to change the realities of military service. But “We the People” are able to plant some seeds of love, kindness, and understanding that will eventually bear good fruit in the lives of those men and women we call Veterans.

That being said, I am happy to announce that with the ongoing support of Veterans for Veterans of Archuleta county Colorado a 501C3 non-profit organization, Wilderness Journeys of Pagosa Springs Colorado,  our local outdoor recreational activities provider and with the help of Exe Blue our website design and technical support company.  The Veterans Outdoor Recreational Therapy Project (V.O.R.T.P) is ready to serve veterans and their families.

This project is about welcoming veterans home, reaching out, and helping with the readjustment process. Presenting information on healthy lifestyle choices that will help promote physical and mental health, and relieve stress naturally.

VORTP is about Veterans Resources .  We are building relationships and hope to collaborate with organizations like the VA Hospital Recreational Therapy dept, The Veterans Administration, DOD,  Adaptive Sports Association of Durango, Operation Healing waters, Wounded Warriors, Outward Bound, The Sierra Club Military Outdoors, Adaptive Adventures of Denver, Military expeditions,  and Veterans Service Organizations like Vets for Vets, VFW, American Legion, DAV, American Volunteers and the Four Corners Veterans Coalition. This is just the beginning.

We are working toward having an extensive and comprehensive list of Activity Providers that offer their services to Veterans for FREE. It doesn’t cost the activity provider to be on the list and usually only takes a couple of business days until it’s posted on the www.vortp.com  Veterans that want to participate in outdoor recreational activities can go directly to the Members page check out all the members and the activities that they offer, and take it from there by clicking the link. By having a list of activities providers in all 50 states we can be sure that the Veteran will be served no matter if they are here in Pagosa, Houston, or Maine for example. A great online resource!

With financial support from donations, grants, and  corporate sponsorships we can and will provide activities free to Disabled Veterans and their families here in the region on an ongoing basis.  We hope to bring Veterans and their families to Pagosa Springs, and get them outdoors, with professional guides, food, Lodging,Local transportation and support from Veterans for Veterans.

Activities will range from 1 day excursions to 3 days worth of activities along with 2 nights lodging, and meals. Activities such as but not limited to Rafting, Guided horseback trail rides, Fly-fishing, 4×4 jeep trail rides, Scenic train rides, Kayaking, Biking, Hiking, Down hill skiing, Cross country skiing, Snowshoeing, and Guided tours to historic national monuments such as Chimney Rock, Mesa Verde, Chaco Canyon.

You can find valuable information on our website www.vortp.com   with links to veterans resources and information on a range of  veterans related and topics.

At present the Veterans Outdoor Recreational Therapy Project is seeking sponsors for our first V.O.R.T.P Fly-fishing trip to the Quality Waters below the dam on the New Mexico side.  This trip is a one day guided fly-fishing trip to the Quality waters of New Mexico and includes transportation from Pagosa Springs, Lunch and snacks. All tackle is supplied by the fishing guide and we hope to make this a worry free excursion. VORTP is raising money for this first trip and could use your help. We hope to accommodate 6 Disabled Combat Vets,  30 May 2018. Any and all donations great and small are appreciated. You can go to the website www.vortp.com or www.vets4vetsPSCO.org

www.wildernessjourneyspagosa.com  to find more information.

Have a great Memorial Day Weekend and God Bless The USA!

E-Pluribus Unum

JW
Combat Vet and Volunteer

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