Who We Are
We are a nonprofit supporting the healing and reintegration of our Wounded Warriors into civilian life.
Who we are: We are a small but passionate and growing nonprofit funded by corporations such as Ball Aerospace, Ophir Corporation, and others, as well as individuals. We have a 501(c)3 nonprofit status by partnering with Outdoor Buddies, a 35 year old spin-off from Craig Rehabilitation Hospital in Denver.
What we do: Warriors On Cataract Canyon sponsors 4-day whitewater trips on the Colorado River through Canyonlands National Park from Moab to Lake Powell for our disabled veterans. Last summer we were able to provide four trips, each taking about 25 Wounded Warriors, their caregivers and families on each trip.
Why we do this: Each year over 8,000 veterans succumb to their hopelessness and depression and die by their own hand. This is more than have ben lost in 18 years of combat in the conflicts in the Middle East. This doesn’t have to be. We find that this whitewater trip is a watershed for many of the Wounded Warrior participants, giving them new hope and perspective, and forming a support group of other combat veterans, thereby putting them on a path to recovery and reintegration.
Who we serve: We accommodate veterans with very significant levels of disability, such as PTSD, traumatic brain injury, orthopedic injuries, multiple amputations, burns, depression, substance abuse, and those with wheel chairs and service dogs.
Letter from our founder...
Warriors on Cataract Canyon takes our Wounded Warriors on multi-day whitewater raft trips on the Colorado River through Canyonlands National Park, Moab to Lake Powell. 2017 was our seventh year running these raft trips, 22 trips to date. Of the 500 or so veterans and caregivers and supporters that have come along, we have lost none to taking their own lives. This is in contrast to the 7000 or so that die by their own hand each year.
We create photo albums each year and are given out to all of the participants on the Cataract Canyon whitewater trips. They serve the participants as something to bring them back to the experiences of their raft trip, to recall that they had a very good time with their buddies (without alcohol), and to keep up their contact with them.
These 4 day whitewater excursions in the remote and peaceful and beautiful wilderness of Canyonlands National Park offer a very effective setting for disabled veterans to communicate and bond with those other vets who understand. We see a myriad of evidences that the connections and bonds that are spawned on these river adventures are effective benefits in bringing these soldiers and airmen back home, back into society. We feel we are helping to heal the visible and invisible wounds suffered in their military experience.
Many tell us the trip has been life-changing. Some tell us they have weaned themselves of substance abuse, a ubiquitous symptom of military experience and lack of enough support upon returning home. Some have thanked us for saving their lives. VA Therapists tell us that some have been taken off High Risk Suicide Watch after the raft trips. The therapists also tell us that these soldiers are the best healers among themselves. We sense that these raft trip adventures are making a very positive difference in the supportive bonds that are created.
Perhaps the healing of soldiers by each other is well said by Lt. General Bernard Trainor (Korea, VietNam), “But as earlier generations know, often the best medicine for bruised bodies and psyches is communion with those who have supped from the same bitter cup. From the dawn of civilization, hunters and warriors shared danger in packs. Through the ages, comrades have sustained each other through the heat of battle. Comrades play the same role when the war is done.”
Three of the trips are in late Spring when the water is high, rapids big. Combat soldiers are adrenaline junkies.
Because many of the female veterans have been assaulted (reportedly 1 in 2) and raped (1 in 3) and would be uneasy camping with male soldiers, one trip is All Female. We put this trip in September when the river is low flow, the water is warm, the beaches are wide, and the rapids are suitable for putting the women in paddle boats and sport kayaks. They were also able to float the rapids in their life jackets, a big hit and confidence builder. There was also yoga, meditation, mindfulness, hiking, and lots of campfire time.
– Fredrick Solheim