Physical activity and being outdoors is so powerful.
One woman in West Virginia has come to understand this for herself, and is now doing everything she can to share this with other veterans.
Annie Balthazar recently founded Paddle for Peace, with a mission of sharing river paddling with other veterans for outdoor therapy.
My name is Annie Balthazar, an Iraqi War veteran. I recently solo-paddled the entire Mississippi River- 2,200 miles from its Source to the Sea. It served as an indescribable form of Outdoor Therapy for me. As a result, I have established Paddle For Peace, a non-profit 501(c)(3), in hopes of sharing the wonders of river paddling with other war veterans.
Paddle For Peace river adventures will be offered to combat veterans who suffer from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) & other war-related afflictions. All veterans are encouraged to consider and participate in this form of “wilderness therapy.”
River expeditions will be offered several times a year in my home state, Wild and Wonderful West Virginia. Residents of WV and bordering states are encouraged to consider this form of outdoor therapy. These expeditions will be offered several times a year, primarily on West Virginia rivers, ranging from 25-200 miles. I anticipate launching my first expedition Spring 2016.
I am passionately committed to this mission, as nearly half of Iraq and Afghanistan vets, my fellow comrades, have received mental health diagnoses including post-traumatic stress, which can lead to high rates of alcohol or drug abuse, domestic violence and suicide. Please help me be a part of a growing number of vets finding effective ways to help themselves through outdoor adventures.
You can find out more about Annie at Paddle for Peace’s website, and you can support her work by visiting the Go Fund Me page. In addition to financial support, Annie is also looking for donations of boats and equipment to be able to provide all the equipment needed to run the trips.
Annie will be presenting about her Mississippi expedition in The Grove at the Secret Sandwich Society in Fayetteville on Thursday, March 24 at 7 p.m.
Everyone is invited to attend!