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VFW Magazine September 2017 : Page 37

LEFT: Members of Post 6311 in Manteca, Calif., in March at the Rivers of Recovery Lodge in Redding, Calif. Rivers of Recovery aims to combat PTSD, as well as stress and anxiety in veterans by taking groups fly fishing. Several Manteca VFW members – some pictured here – are on staff, volunteer their time and have participated in fishing excursions. From left, Gunny Reyes, Jose Jauregui, Jim Barbour, Raul Miranda, Johnny Unipeg, Steven Smith, Christopher McVicker, Derek McGinnis, Don Jaramillo and VFW Post 6311 Commander Carlon Perry. which means he is responsible for man-aging each camp. At 19, Jauregui was on patrol with the 2nd Bn., 17th Field Artillery Regt., 2nd Inf. Div., on April 16, 2005, in Iraq, when an enemy mortar exploded. The three other soldiers with him were killed. More than half of his body was covered in third-degree burns. He had a 3 per-cent chance of survival. Jauregui prevailed. He spent nearly two years in the hospital, most of that time at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, before returning home to Stockton, Calif. “I met other veterans around me going through similar things,” he said. “When we go on these trips, you just instantly bond without knowing each other. They see me going through the same stuff as they are, and I think we help each other. That’s what it’s all about.” The cost is about $2,500 per vet-eran, but due to donations, it’s cost-free to veterans. Each participant also walks away with about $500 worth of new fishing equipment. Perry’s Post has donated to the program in the past. Gunny Reyes, also a member of Post 6311, is a Rivers of Recovery board member. He said there are current-ly fishing trips available in Oregon, California, Colorado, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Connecticut and most recent-ly, Michigan’s Pierre Marquette River. Reyes always had a love of fly fish-ing. Being in the Marines from 1995-2009, he didn’t have a lot of time for it. When he got out of the Marines, his boss told him he should check out Rivers of Recovery, so he did. Reyes said the trip reignited his enthusiasm for fishing. He began vol-unteering on trips to help other vet-erans and eventually became a board member. “Rivers of Recovery re-connect-ed me with myself and what I love to do,” said Reyes, who served with the 1st Bn., 1st Marines, 1st Marine Div., in Afghanistan in 2001 (he was among the first Marines in Afghanistan after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks). “Once you see what this does for veterans, you’ll see it’s amazing. This is a very rewarding program.” Perry agreed. “It’s not just fishing. It’s about bond-ing and being able to come back better than when we left,” he said. “I don’t want to say it changes their lives, but it chang-es their views on life. And now they go out with their new equipment and their new friends and have fun.” For more information, visit www. riversofrecovery.org. J EMAIL jdyhouse@vfw.org “It’s not just fishing. It’s about bonding and being able to come back better than when we left.” Carlon Perry, Commander, VFW Post 6311 Rivers of Recovery Founder Makes a Difference Founder Dan T. Cook left a 15-year career in the financial industry in 2006. He had worked as a propri -etary trader for corporations such as AIG Trading, Duke Energy and Shell Oil. He ventured out on a 75,000-mile journey around the world. This trip was the springboard for Rivers of Recovery (RoR) in 2008. Cook per -sonally paid for the first two years’ programs. “I felt it was important to share the art of fly fishing and the great outdoors with veterans to assist with their recovery and rehabilitation,” Cook said. “What differentiates RoR is we use the outdoors and these outdoor activities that build a sense of confidence and self-empower -ment. It’s the perfect platform that helps to bring in these techniques to help manage and mitigate PTSD, anxiety and depression.” SEPTEMBER 2017   • WWW.VFW.ORG • 37

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