A veteran’s words

“I think the organization, as of right now, is perfect,” Donald Cyr of Vero Beach said Thursday afternoon.

That organization is Wounded Warrior Anglers of America, Inc., a nonprofit that was founded in 2012 by Dave and Judy Souders.  Its mission is to “help rehabilitate the mind, body and soul of all service members who have been injured, wounded or disabled in the line of duty no matter what their era of service.”

Donald, who is currently in his 30’s, served in the Marine Corps., as well as the Army for a total of 7 1/2 years. He said joining the Marines was something he thought about and looked forward to while in high school.

“I got into the Marines and then the war was about to begin and I wanted to be a part of it,” he said, adding that the Army took him first.

He left the Marine Corps in January 2003 and “jumped” into the Army in March 2003. Donald was deployed three times, all in Baghdad, Iraq.

Luckily, he did not suffer any physical injuries during his service. With that said, he still suffers from the trauma of the war, the emotional and psychological aspect. Donald said seeing his friends go through the whole process of getting injured was and still is difficult.

It’s an ongoing battle, one that he said will be there forever.

When talking about his service, the word “camaraderie” was expressed on many occasions. Donald said the Marine Corps and the Army are like two brothers – you feel a part of a family, a rather large family.

Donald is still in contact with those he went to war with. He said he moved to Vero Beach because of a friend he served with. That friend also introduced him to Judy and Dave about a year ago.

battle of matlachaThis is where the beauty of Wounded Warrior Anglers of America comes into play . . .  this organization is another form of a family, one that continues to improve the lives of everyone it touches.

Donald said it is great to see and meet the two people who run the organization – Judy and Dave. He expressed that many times you do not know the people who are behind the organization.

“They are a little more homey,” he said of Judy and Dave. “It feels like family to me, just because they are part of that organization. They are actually a part of it and they are there and making sure things are running well. I think it’s a really good way to do it. Other organizations you have programs that you really don’t know what’s going on.”

The homey, family oriented atmosphere that Judy and Dave provide, was the reason Donald wanted to show his daughter what Wounded Warrior Anglers is all about.

Donald had the privilege of experiencing the program Wounded Warrior Anglers offers first hand again last month with his 14-year-old daughter. He was treated to a two-day retreat out on the water fishing with Dave and his daughter.

He recalls those two days being therapeutic and very relaxing.

“It can also be a lot of fun, especially when you are catching fish,” Donald said.

He shared that the first time he was taken out on a retreat he enjoyed the ability to talk to his fellow veterans about anything – life in general – what’s going on in each of their lives.

“That’s really what it is all about,” Donald said.

Although he did not catch anything last month, his daughter did – two red fish and a couple of catfish. Donald said after that day, his daughter told him she understood why he goes fishing, that it was so nice and calm.

“That’s why I wanted to bring her out there,” he said, adding he also wanted that bonding time with his daughter.

Before we ended our conversation, Donald expressed that he wanted to thank everyone that is part of the organization.

“I know Judy and Dave work very hard to put this stuff together and also the people that you don’t see that make all the effort as well,” he said. “I want to thank them . . . let them know I am thankful.”

This is just one wounded warrior the organization has touched. These stories warm my heart and give me a sense of joy because some of their trauma was taken away for an extended amount of time.

Thank you Donald for your service, thank you for fighting for our freedom.

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