On this day….. Veterans day

6 comments / Posted on / by

Photo by Louis Cahill

By Aleks Renshaw

In today’s America, only about 0.4 percent of our Nation defend us from all enemies, foreign and domestic.

“The veterans of our military services have put their lives on the line to protect the freedoms that we enjoy. They have dedicated their lives to their country and deserve to be recognized for their commitment.” -Judd Gregg

If asked, It would be virtually impossible for any single one of them, who currently serve,  to say that their military service has not changed them in some way. Boot camp changes you, the brothers and sisters you serve with change you, and public perception of who you are and what you represent takes hold and changes you. Those are just the basics that I encountered. Add in the factors of serving during war time and tours of duty in war torn areas in the world and the fabric of a man, or woman, changes for ever. 

The soldier above all others prays for peace, for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.” -Douglas MacArthur

It is impossible to un-see things. To rationally understand the things you are encountering, and erase the scars of war, visible and invisible. As individuals, we internalize and process things differently. Guilt, depression, anxiety, memory loss, and shame. Reactions, unique to ourselves and the experiences we encounter. It’s hard to help with something that, in most, has yet to show its self or they are unable to outwardly explain. 

To exacerbate this, only about 7.3 percent of all living Americans have served in the military at some point in their lives. So, about 92.7 percent of Americans can’t begin to relate to those men and women just out of boot camp, let alone returning home from a tour of duty. As these men and women fade back into society, we see an average of 20 veterans commit suicide daily. This number may fluctuate but, any number for our war hero’s is unacceptable. I personally faced a sailor who found herself wanting to end her life and another who I could not stop. I just could not get my head around the numbers that were being published or the two sailors I personally encountered. They left me wanting to do more. 

“There is certainly something in angling that tends to produce a serenity of mind” –Washington Irving

So, I began by donating my monthly reserve pay to a National Veteran Organization and volunteering my time with several other Veteran Organizations. After a national scandal with a well-known charity I was sending money to, I found myself looking for a more genuine organization. An organization that has a more specific approach. A one on one program with a multi level approach that I could focus my efforts on. 

I found it in Warriors and Quiet Waters. A Montana charitable Organization that is privately funded, volunteer-based that offers programs to post 9/11 Combat Veterans and their families. 

Their mission says it all: Through the experience of fly fishing in Montana, Warriors and Quiet Waters is the catalyst for positive change in the lives of post-9/11 combat veterans. 

They have been carrying out this mission for over a decade and continue to evolve to serve the combat veteran community. I have seen it first-hand. The generosity of the Volunteers, Donors and the Residents of Montana insures that this will continue for years to come. Frankly, I am left in awe, seeing it all come together, instilling hope, a sense of serenity, and promise for a better tomorrow for these Hero’s.

So on this day… Veterans day. Reach out to a veteran and say thank you for standing the watch! Find an organization you can get behind to help change the trajectory of a veteran. Give of your time and or money. 

Aleks Renshaw
Gink & Gasoline
Sign Up For Our Weekly Newsletter!

Follow Gink & Gasoline on Facebook:

6 thoughts on “On this day….. Veterans day

  1. Thanks for the veterans post!! I have 3 decades plus of regular US Army service and as a guide do “Wounded Warrior” trips and often guide 10th Mountain Division Service men and women from nearby Ft Drum, NY. Nobody is more appreciative of what we do for them!!!

    I would add a couple of things to your post. We have been at war for 17 years and the operational tempo (deployments with little down time in-between) is the highest, most intense in this nation’s entire history!!! We are well served by this generation.

    They are all volunteers and the vast majority volunteered in a time of war, most knowing that they would be deployed in that war. They handle the new and ever changing technology of the battlefield. They fight terrorism in a guerilla war, the toughest kind of fight! We won in Iraq because the Soldiers, learned a few words of Farsi, stopped at the local markets, rebuilt schools, restocked clinics and gave the Iraqis hope for there children. They are the best generation since the WWII generation!

  2. It seems as though the outreach to veterans today is leaps and bounds above any other time in our history. Oftentimes its seems like just a bandwagon deal as people have embraced the veterans and how it makes them feel good to appreciate them. This is all good and is the way that the culture surrounding veteran appreciation will grow and spread during a time when America needs more Patriotism and reflection on the veterans of America and all the sacrifices they have made throughout the history of this great nation. Fishing is something I cherished before going to war and am so thankful I had it after as I searched for myself once again upon my return. A fly rod and Alaska was my savior and with 20 years of memories to fall back on those days help me still today, except that I would love to go back. I will one day. Sorry about the ramblings it’s just that this post touched me deeply and now I appreciate the organizations like Warriors and Quiet Waters because I know they help those that might be searching for themselves. Once again.

  3. There is nothing like being on the water, taking a deep breath and remembering those I’ve served with that are no longer with me. I bring their spirit with me.
    Thank you for this story and for founding this great organization!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Captcha loading...