‘Kayak with a Vet’ helps Veterans improve mental, physical health
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - It’s about little actions that provide Veterans with outlets to improve their physical and mental health.
“It’s amazing,” said Gary Havel Jr.
Gary Havel Jr. joined the military when he was 19-years-old. His reserve unit served in the Middle East, in Operation Dessert Storm and Dessert Shield. But when he came back home, it wasn’t easy.
“I was homeless, living out of my car, and I met the Kauffman Fund, and the Kauffman Fund changed the trajectory of my life,” he said.
Havel joined up with some local Veterans organizations, including the Kauffman Fund, that helped him get over the hump. Now, he wants to do the same for other struggling Veterans.
“All these great organizations out here can help get that vet out of their house and into the community,” he said.
He’s one of about 100 Veterans who kayaked with family and friends Saturday afternoon. This is a partnership between the Local Elks Lodge and Project River Runner, an organization that gives opportunities just like this for Veterans to get out on the water.
“They should never be forgotten,” said Beth Schnettler, St. Louis Elks Lodge No. 9.
With Veteran suicide and depression rates still common, organizers of Saturday’s event say things like this are more important than ever.
“How calm it is out on the water. How peaceful it is out on the water. And for some veterans, that’s maybe a moment in the sun they don’t get every day,” said Bob Dixon, St. Louis Elks Lodge No. 9.
This is the fourth year of this specific event, and organizers say it’s just one of many ways we can all help our nation’s heroes.
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