Warrior Expeditions: Veterans canoe the Mississippi River as therapy from military service
Veterans are canoeing the length of the Mississippi River as a way to deal with returning home from active duty.
The journey began in Itasca State Park in Northern Minnesota and 2,320 miles later in Louisiana. The entire journey, funded by the non-profit organization Warrior Expeditions will take nearly 90 days to complete.
Brandon Blackmore, from St. Louis, MO, is one of four veterans on the expedition, which made a stop in the Quad Cities. Sunday was day 48 for the group with 860 miles completed.
Blackmore retired from the U.S. Army in Feb. 2018 after 20 years. He said they spend most nights looking for campsites, but they do have some help along the way.
"We do have some predesignated supporters along the way...VFWs, American Legions, and what we call River Angels. Just random individuals along the river that support what we're doing," Blackmore said.
One of their predesignated stops was the VFW post in Bettendorf. The Chaplain for VFW 9128, Mike Pace, said the post has been a rest stop for Warrior Expeditions for the past five years.
Warrior Expeditions was founded by Sean Gobin in 2012 after he retired from the Marine Corps after 12 years.
"He got out as a captain and decided once he got out, he was going to walk the Appalachian Trail. While he was doing the Appalachian Trail, he decided he wanted to put something together for other combat veterans to help them out. It started with just the Appalachian Trail. Then it blew up into multiple hiking trails, biking trails, and the Mississippi River," Blackmore said.
The journey gives the veterans a chance to clear their mind, as they transition to civilian life, in the beauty of the outdoors. Blackmore said it's a mental release for him.
"It's definitely therapeutic in that aspect for me. It gives me time to think. And try to right, what I consider wrongs, in my lifetime," he said.
Warrior Expeditions provides the veterans with everything they need to complete their journey at no cost to them.