An intangible but priceless value of parks is the opportunity they provide for healing of mind, body and spirit. A great example occurred last week when a non-profit organization called the Wounded Warrior Project led a group of wounded veterans on a rafting trip through Lodore Canyon at Dinosaur National Monument.
Martin Wiesiolek, the event's organizer, reported the four day trip went very well.
"On a second day we floated past a campsite with a large group of rafters," Wiesiolek said. "As we floated by, the group started cheering and singing for us. I was guiding a paddle boat with the veterans, and they all fell silent when they heard the cheers. A really tough guy, Jim, turned to me with tears in his eyes. It was hard to respond to the group's cheering with lumps in our throats, but eventually we all responded with a strong, military-style OORAH."
Dinosaur National Monument Superintendent Mary Risser noted,
"National parks are places of refuge and inspiration. I am thrilled that this partnership will allow more veterans to be rejuvenated by the serenity, beauty, and recreational opportunities found in parks. Last year, the Adaptive Sports Association taught several vets who had lost limbs how to kayak and took them on a trip through Grand Canyon. We’re delighted that we were able to accommodate their trip through Lodore Canyon in Dinosaur."
This trip is part of the Wounded Warrior Projects’ goal to help wounded soldiers with their rehabilitation by getting them involved with outdoor recreational activities. In a ceremony held at the Lincoln Memorial in September 2008, NPS Director Mary A. Bomar and Wounded Warrior Project Executive Director and Founder John Melia signed an agreement to develop opportunities to help severely injured military members mend physically, mentally, and spiritually in parks.
“The words of Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address carved on the wall inside of the memorial remind all of us ‘to care for him who shall have borne the battle,” said Bomar. “National parks are places of refuge and inspiration. I am thrilled that this partnership will allow more veterans to be rejuvenated by the serenity, beauty, and recreational opportunities found in parks.”
Wounded Warrior Project is a non-profit organization whose mission is to honor and empower wounded warriors. It serves to raise awareness and enlist the public’s aid for the needs of severely injured service men and women, to help severely injured service members aid and assist each other and to provide unique, direct programs and services to meet their needs.