On Sept.12, five visually impaired Veterans completed a treacherous 12-day kayaking expedition over 226 miles of the Colorado River.
VA, the Blinded Veterans Association and Team River Runner were instrumental in helping the group reintegrate and to accomplish the unthinkable. These five Veterans traveled to Arizona together, conquered the Colorado River together, and will continue to endeavor life, together. When asked what their most memorable moment was on this trip, they all said, “Finishing the river together.”
A physical lifestyle for Veterans is a way of healing. It was noted, that some blind Veterans may go years without leaving their homes. One focus of the group is to bring awareness to the issues blind Veterans face and to show that they can do much more in society if they had the equipment. Having equipment like an assistive guidance system can make kayaking an easier ride through the rapids. Tandem bicycles are an opportunity to be active with friends and family while continuing the healing process.
Leadership from the Phoenix VA Regional Office along with the executive director of Team River Runner was there to discuss their recent journey as well as their transition from the military to civilian world. There were many suggestions to improve VA services including improving eBenefits. The group agreed that even though this portal is ADA compliant, improvements were needed. They offered to work with VA to make this program friendlier for all visually impaired Veterans.
For more information about the groups adventure, visit Team River Runner.
Monica Cabrera is a public affairs officer at the Phoenix VA Regional Office.