Wounded Warriors Weekend Foundation, Camp Independence
The year was 2013 when I first heard about the Wounded Warriors’ Weekend Foundation retreat that was brought up by the Osiss co-ordinator of North Bay, Ontario. He submitted my name for attendance to experience the retreat as I was just starting to come out of mental crash after working for two years and not managing things well. I starting building a network of contacts, however, I was still working to building those contacts within Osiss. Something was missing, counselling was ongoing and doing things to keep overly busy and not dealing with my triggers and memories.
The retreat gave me more than I ever expected it would, the welcoming with the honour guard was overwhelming emotional to the point of breaking down in tears as it was an appreciation that was given without judgement and acknowledgement that proved us injured / ill soldiers still have worth to the outside world.
Managed to talk with Blake Emmons, the founder of Wounded Warriors Weekend Foundation, he explained all that was happening over the weekend and was informed about fishing, golfing, gala dinner, etc. My first thought about fishing was less than excited, growing up on the east coast and having been involved with the fishing industry through family and friends, I had no desire to go fishing. I was to learn a great deal that weekend. A group of us were sent out with one of native elders and his wife on their pontoon boat and when he spoke we all listened and learnt fishing is more than catching fish, it is the connection with mother nature, connecting with peers, making new experiences and living in the moment. This is where I learnt about stopping and taking in the sights, sounds, and casting away a little bit of the negativity that I carry from being medically discharged from the military.
That weekend gave me the gift of learning to connect with others that deal with the same stuff and helped me know I am not alone and was able to let others in so I can share some of the stuff I was carrying with me. I made connections with several other veterans that weekend that still carry on to this day and knowing that if I slide backwards into the darkness, I can call them and have a conversation to keep me on track.
Upon my return home from the retreat, I shared with my spouse that I found something that finally works for me, I needed my own rods, tackle box, tackle, boat and needed to be near or on the water. It provided me with an activity to keep connected with others and manage my demons and negativity.I was not aware that this event would be catalyst to the creation of Lures For Vets and giving back to the organization that gave me such a life saving gift and way to connect with others dealing with the same stuff, knowing that I have an extended family no matter where I am when help is needed.
Cpl (ret), CD