3 veterans paddle down Mississippi River part of program

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - Three veterans arrived in Cape Girardeau after over a month of paddling down the Mississippi River.

The veterans are part of a Warrior Expeditions program which is a nonprofit outdoor therapy program that helps veterans transition from their wartime experiences through long distance outdoor expeditions.

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United States Navy Richard Bain was deployed to Kuwait and Iraq. He says that this is trip is nice because it helps him relax and get to know two strangers that have a common bond with each other.

"We have that common bond of military service and I think that's really more than anything what has helped us as three strangers," Bain said. "Just 6 weeks ago, we were strangers and we really work well together."

United States Army Ryan Webb was deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq. He signed up for an adventure through the Warrior Expeditions program and was selected to paddle down the Mississippi River, equipped with gear and supplies from the program for him and his two new friends. He feels this trip is refreshing to have a new experience and meet new people.

"Restore in faith and humanity," Webb said. "You kind of lose that when you see the ugly side of people for so long. And so that's what we get here is we get to meet people like Sandy and all these other VFW Representatives who just take us in and take care of us."

United States Army Matt Roy was deployed to Kosovo and Iraq as well. He says he enjoys this adventure and is able to enjoy nature and all it has to offer. He said it's therapeutic for him.

"Nature is great. It allows us time to think, talk and bond," Roy said. "Everyday has been a new experience. When we first started the Mississippi River was about 4 feet wide. Now it's half a mile or so. Every day we hear it's the widest part."

The three veterans started their journey on July 20 in Minnesota and have paddled nearly 1,300 miles. Their journey resumes from the Red Star Boat Ramp in Cape Girardeau on Tuesday morning.

According to Warrior Expeditions, since 2001, over 2.5 million veterans have returned home from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but many have never transitioned from their experiences. The Department of Veteran Affairs estimates that over 20% of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

For more information about the program, click here.

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