#VCR #Vetsrespond

2017 Modern Warriors Retreat

It seems nearly impossible for me to start one of these posts from a place other than that of deep gratitude. Our organization is blessed to have the support we recieve from the community. This retreat, as with many of the programs we offer, was only possible through the support of community members, local families, local businesses, various local fire departments and the Spokane Vet Center.

This year we served 25 veterans at our Modern Warrior Retreat, over a third of them are new to are organization, several who have attended a retreat in the past and a few who are now in a support role and showed up to be of service.

Each year this retreat is held in honor of a fallen service member. This year we honored Jacob Hess, Sgt. USMC. Throughout the retreat we carried a guidon honoring Jacob. The guidon was with us from the opening ceremony at Spokane Valley Fire Dept. Station 10 to the closing ceremony at the Spokane Gun Club. The guidon was with us as we laughed, embarrassed ourselves, challenged our fears and even shed some tears while building cohesion. It was there as we learned about Native American Sweat Lodges and how this practice has been used to heal warriors for hundreds of years. It sat watch as we woke our bodies up with a morning yoga sessions. The guidon showed us the direction of the wind as we challenged each other to an archery contest and was there as we played an intense game of kayak polo and explored Deer Lake. It witnessed veterans learning how to make bracelets out of parachord and playing a military version of Speak Out. The guidon was with us as we enjoyed amazing meals prepared by volunteers, firefighters, and board members. It was there as we enjoyed a meal with the Jorgenson family and spent the afternoon boating on Deer Lake. Our guidon stood over us as many of us were humbled during a friendly game of Annie Oakley at the Spokane Gun Club.

Everything this guidon bore witness to was in service of our mission, to bring our nations veterans all the way home. Our guidon has seen a great deal of pain moving toward healing, isolation moving toward connection, fear moving toward hope, and light hearted smiles on faces that are often heavy with the somberness of war.

8th Annual VCR Highway 2 Clean Up and River Float

On August 5 of this year, Veterans Community Response members teamed up with the Big Sky Brewing crew and friends for our 8th annual highway cleanup and river float.   This year we set a new record.  Thirty of us cleaned 7 miles of Highway 2, collecting more than 70 bags of trash.  We are greatly honored to be the stewards of a special stretch of highway.

In 2010, we were returning home from our first Montana Combat Veterans retreat when we noticed large amounts of trash around the monument on Highway 2 at the Marias Pass summit.   We cleaned over eight bags of trash that evening, and the next day VCR (then named Community Focused Disaster Response) and Big Sky Brewing Company adopted a three-mile stretch of Highway 2 including the summit at the Continental Divide. 

This thin ribbon of road is the only barrier separating the 1.4 million acre Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex to the south and Glacier Park’s one million acres.  As such, it is a very special place, known as “The Crown of The Continent”, and deserves the best care and respect.   Each year we choose an unadopted stretch of road and clean it as well.

After a rigorous morning of cleaning highway, we boated down the Middle Fork of the Flathead River.   This is a relaxed fun float where wildlife encounters are common.  It’s a great reward for the hard work.