Chapter VP, Gregg Follmer (R.) presents Russ with an inscribed plaque expressing our appreciation. 
Charles "Chuck" Johns
1947 -- 2017
Gary Hutchison Memorial Chapter 1028

 

The following photos and article appeared in the May 26th edition of the South County Times courtesy of Holly Shanks.  Ken House is a member of our Chapter and has been a devoted  supporter of Healing Waters and the work they do at Jefferson Barracks.  The Chapter is proud to list Healing Waters as one of our core charities that we help.


                        Missouri Vets Enjoy Trout Time In Augusta

Earlier this month, three veterans traveled from Missouri to Montana for what could best be described as a little “trout therapy."
The vets are affiliated with Camp Valor Outdoors, based in Kingsville, Missouri.
The camp is a 50-acre refuge with a bunkhouse that will accommodate seven vets. The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant facility has a mission to get “ill, injured and wounded veterans” into the outdoors. Camp Valor Outdoors is an all volunteer organization, and has no payroll, according to Maj John T. Schwent, Jr., USMC (Ret), who is the Founder and Executive Director.
Mike Lange, a Marine who served in Vietnam, said the camp is in its fifth year and has helped 1,000 veterans and operates in 13 states. Lange told the Sun Times that once a veteran comes to Camp Valor Outdoors and “sees the camaraderie,” they are hooked.
Most of the vets who show up at Camp Valor Outdoors are amputees or suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.
Rich Hogan, a twenty-year veteran with the U.S. Coast Guard, including time in Iraq, said that the idea of trout fishing in Montana attracted him to make the trip. “It’s therapeutic to be with vets who have been through the same thing,” Hogan said. Hogan also serves as a National Service Officer with AMVETS, advising fellow service members how to navigate the Veterans Administration labyrinth for benefits.
When asked how PTSD manifests, Hogan said a vet may become a “loner.” He added that it was equine assisted therapy that helped him return to a normal life.
Jeremy Troester left the military after serving over 20 years, serving in the U.S. Army and the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. For Troester, the time spent on the shore of Willow Creek Reservoir took him back to when he was a kid, when he liked to fish.
Troester, like the other vets, feels more at ease around other veterans, saying that when talking to those who have not served, they “look at you like you’re crazy.”
The visit was coordinated with Greg Grass, a Vietnam Veteran from St. Louis, Missouri who retired after a 26-year career with Anheuser-Busch. Grass made his first visit to Montana to hunt elk at the K Bar L ranch in 1979. In 2000, he purchased a house in Augusta where he now spends a good portion of his time.
Grass opened his home to the visiting warriors.
He is a member of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter in St. Louis, and got involved with Camp Valor Outdoors three years ago.
Grass is a commanding presence with a voice that seems perfect for a drill sergeant, but the thing that seems to affect him the most as he chats during a breezy afternoon on Willow Creek is the outpouring of support from the Augusta community.
Businesses in Augusta gave discounts to the vets, but more importantly the folks in Augusta embraced the servicemen, making them feel welcome and appreciated, a far different outcome than one of the veterans described upon his return from Vietnam.
Retired U.S. Air Force veteran, photographer and fishing advisor Gus Wolfe took the vets to the best fishing holes. Watching Wolfe and Greg Grass interact with their fellow veterans was a lesson in the brotherhood that vets speak about so often.  
When there was a nibble on one of the fishing lines, the entire entourage cheers on the lucky fisherman, even when it was the brisk Montana wind moving the bobber, not a prize trout. And when it came time to bait the hook or wade into the water with a net to get the fish onshore, the hosts are eager to assist – anything to make sure that the visit is carefree for the visiting vets.
Wolfe was happy to be a part of the visit. “Look at these guys. Look what they’ve been through and how they are enjoying themselves.”
Wolfe told the Sun Times, “When I was with these warriors, I felt like a running back that never carried the ball, I was never over there.” By “over there,” Wolfe was referring to the fact that in his 23 ½ years of service, he never saw overseas duty.
Mike Bouchard, who runs the Lazy B in Augusta was also on hand to insure that the vets had a memorable visit. Though he didn’t serve, Bouchard has long supported organizations that work with veterans. Not only does he donate to some of the groups, he works with the groups to bring wounded vets to Montana for a visit. Over the past five year, Bouchard estimates he has worked with 3 or 4 wounded warriors, one at a time. “This is something I feel strongly about,” he told the Sun Times.
When the Missouri vets went to the Manix Store in Augusta to purchase their fishing licenses, they found that the fees had already been covered. Though he was reluctant to admit it – Gus Wolfe had tipped us off to this fact – Bouchard did confirm that he donated the licenses.
Of the visit by the Missouri vets, Bouchard said he enjoyed spending time with them. “There were no war stories, they just wanted to relax and have a good time. All the vets I’ve been around are like that.”
For the veterans, their comments about the visit were related to the wide-open spaces and the mountain views. “There’s the Rockies!” one of the servicemen said of the snowcapped peaks of the Eastern Slope.
All of the veterans shared the opinion about the people of Augusta. Even as the three Missouri vets prepared to board a private aircraft at Choteau airport, they were talking about the Montana welcome.
When asked what it was about Augusta that motivates the small community so welcoming to those who served, Bouchard replied, “Everybody in Augusta is real. Down to earth. We respect those who fight for us. It doesn’t matter if they served in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm – or in the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, these men and women have put their life on the line.”
On the way to the airport, they stopped for gas in Choteau. One of the vets said that at the service station a local rancher had a chat with them and invited them to come back and do some hunting.
For more information about Camp Valor Outdoors, visit their Facebook page, facebook.com/pg/campvaloroutdoors or their website, campvaloroutdoors.org.
You can support Camp Valor Outdoors by selecting the organization when you shop at smile.amazon.com – go to that site when shopping at Amazon and the online store will donate up to 0.5 per cent of your eligible purchase to the organization.
For more information on Vietnam Veterans of America, visit vva.org.
Locally, veterans can contact the Augusta American Legion. In Fairfield, Contact VFW Post Commander Jerry Emerson or Quartermaster Gary Kasper. For more information on the Fairfield American Legion Post, contact Steve Lettengarver, Post Commander.

 

After serving two terms as Chapter President, Russ Whitener is retiring. During his time in office the Chapter has grown to over 200 members. With his leadership the Chapter has become more active in serving  veterans and the community. Russ, to quote Gary Hutchison, the inspiration of our Chapter,  "You've done good."
On May 27th we held fundraisers at the Wildwood Dierbergs and the Manchester Highlands Walmart.  We also worked the Highlands Walmart on the 28th. As usual, we are very appreciative of the store's management and thankful for their patron's generosity.  Below are photos of our dedicated volunteers who sacrificed part of their holiday weekend to make this fundraising effort a success.

Richard Scharlott

          -- 2017

 

 Paul Lehnard speaks to the membership about his medical ordeal with the VA

 

April - June 2017

Fred Dishner displays a quilt from the ladies of Quilts of Valor.  The quilt is to be presented to Paul Lehnard at a later date.

Project Healing Waters
Fly fishing program helps disabled veterans with physical, emotional problems
by Holly Shanks
May 26, 2017


Chief Master Sgt. Clinton Carpenter, a Vietnam veteran, retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1987 after 25 years of service. After reading about a fly fishing program for veterans, he decided to dedicate his time and serve again by helping other veterans and military members.






















Carpenter co-founded Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing at Jefferson Barracks in 2008. The program helps disabled veterans and current military members with physical and emotional rehabilitation through fly fishing. Three hundred veterans go through the program at Jefferson Barracks each year, according to Carpenter. 

Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing is a national non-profit organization with more than 200 programs nationwide. The program at Jefferson Barracks Veterans Administration (VA) hospital is one of them. For a program to operate it must be sponsored by a local fly fishing organization. Missouri Troutbusters, a non-profit organization in Des Peres, is Project Healing Waters' sponsor. 

Several times a year program volunteers take veterans to outdoor areas to test their hand-made flies and new fly fishing skills. Flies are non-barbed hooks encased with materials that imitate natural bait for fish, like trout. Carpenter said he runs for his camera to capture the moment each time participants catch their first fish before releasing it back into the water. 

"The look on their faces you would not believe. We've had veterans throw their fishing rod on the ground, grab the line with their hands and pull the fish in rather than use the fly rod because they're so excited," Carpenter said. "Now that's excitement. And that's what their faces look like — just pure excitement." 

There is never any charge to veterans. Much of the funding for the program comes from Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Missouri Troutbusters, VVA 1028 in Fenton, T. Hargrove Fly Fishing Inc., 9024 Manchester, and Feather-Craft St. Louis Fly Shop, 8307 Manchester.

One fundraiser for the program is called Healing Saturday. The annual November event is hosted by Feather-Craft St. Louis Fly Shop. The event originated locally and has spread nationwide. 

Ken House of Sappington is a program volunteer and assistant program lead. He is also a member of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 1028 in Fenton. He said participants in the program range in age, but most are over 30. The veterans face varying issues, including post traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, or burn injuries. The program has special equipment to allow for an amputee to participate as well. 
The number of participants each week can range from two to more than 20. 

Carpenter said tying flies requires mental concentration, and the repetitive motions of fly tying help with dexterity. Fly fishing can be enjoyed by veterans after they leave the VA hospital, Carpenter added. 

House said volunteers never inquire as to why participants are at the VA hospital. The goal is simply to provide them with a beneficial experience without any negativity. Many veterans are reluctant to attend a session at first, but the reluctance soon turns to enthusiasm. 

"A lot of the participants have lost some of their sense of value," House said. "They have fallen out of mainstream society and feel they do not really provide anything worthwhile that would benefit anybody."

The program takes their minds away from the bad experiences and helps move them forward to something better, according to House. Many participants are skeptical they can create a fly at first. But once they produce something positive with their own hands their attitude starts to turn around.

"When they get out on a stream and catch a fish with a fly that they have tied, or a rod they built, that's pretty much the point of the mountain right there. You know that you're pretty much having a good experience with what your abilities have produced," House said. "To see the smile and the pleasure they get out of that on their face – it brings tears to your eyes." 

Any veteran or current military member, disabled or not, is welcome to join or visit the Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing sessions that take place every Monday evening starting at 6 p.m., in the Jefferson Barracks medical facility gym building 61.
 
In April, two vets traveled to Montana for some "Big Sky" therapy. The vets were welcomed into the Augusta home of Chapter member Greg     " Cowboy" Grass who also resides in St. Louis.  Greg has previously hosted other veterans at his Montana residence in years past. Accompanying the group this year was another Chapter member Mike Lange who is also a board member of Camp Valor Outdoors.  The hospitality and comradeship extended to our fellow vets by Greg and Mike exemplify the very credo of the VVA: "Veterans helping Veterans."

L. to R. Jeremy Troester, Mike Lange, Greg Grass, Rich Hogan, Mike Bouchard, Gus Wolfe

 

Thanks Russ...

End of Page

Chapter 1028 Newsletter

At the Meetings


Vietnam Veterans of America

At the April meeting Chapter officers were elected and sworn in: L. to R. Norm Franklin, Sgt-at- Arms; Tom Brophy, Treasurer; Ken House, Parliamentarian; Gregg Follmer, Vice-President; Don Aird, Secretary; Bill De Armond, Sr. Director; Fred Dishner, Chaplain; Stan Nelms, Historian.

Retiring President Russ Whitener issues the oath of office to incoming President Dan Crowe

Julieann Najar, founder of A Soldier's Wish List, spoke to our group about ASWL and expressed her thanks for the Chapter's support.
Fundraising

Gone...but not forgotten.

The photos and article below were provided by Daryl L. Flowers and the Fairfield Sun Times

Sadly, we lost two members recently; Richard Scharlott in April and Charles "Chuck" Johns in May

 

Look who's back!  Mike Erxleben continues with his recovery after his accident.