Our soldiers give so much for our safety and too many of them return home no longer able to do so many of the things they love. Once vibrantly active people are left to feel they are now no longer capable of participating in the activities we often take for granted.
When Micah Clark returned home from Afghanistan he sought relief and relaxation while fishing. It was this idea that sparked the creation of Camp Patriot. Bill Clark from Camp Patriot took the time to answer some of our questions about Camp Patriot and its goal to help disabled Veterans.
What is the mission of Camp Patriot?
Camp Patriot exists to take U.S. Disabled Veterans on outdoor adventures.
What is your primary goal and how do you hope to accomplish it?
To create relationships through outdoor adventures that will promote positive life changing experiences. Camp Patriot finds ways to overcome obstacles that keep disabled veterans from fulfilling their dreams to be in the outdoors.
How long has Camp Patriot been around?
Camp Patriot began in 2005 receiving its 501 c 3 IRS designations as a nonprofit in early 2006. The Camp Patriot Corporation was formed in Montana and we have our headquarters office in Libby Montana.
What sparked the idea for Camp patriot?
Micah Clark the founder, after serving in Afghanistan protecting Government Officials, returned to Montana for a little relaxation and fishing. Micah had the idea for a couple of years to create Camp Patriot. He felt God had blessed him in his life and wanted to give back to others. He realized that many wounded and injured veterans would never be able to experience the outdoors like he was at that moment. Micah bought a book called Non Profits for dummies and set off to create Camp Patriot.
Where does the funding come from?
Funding for Camp Patriot is all private and corporate donations. We had decided early on that we would not seek federal or government funding. Camp Patriot has been blessed by many private individuals and a number of corporations who decided to make a difference for disabled vets and commit money to that cause.
How have you helped veterans and their families?
Camp Patriot targets only the veterans. We believe there is an ancillary benefit to the families in that they get their veteran back from Camp Patriot with a changed heart. Camp Patriot’s desire is to help create a paradigm shift in the lives of disabled vets. Many of them are depressed having gone through major and often repeated surgeries. Most military folks were outdoors men and women before they went in. During their service to America they were injured and are unable to get back into the outdoors in a significant way. Camp Patriot steps in and offers the love and help to allow them to overcome obstacles that were a barrier between them and outdoor activities they love to do.
What challenges do you face when trying to help veterans and their families?
The most challenging thing is raising the funds to take disabled veterans on some amazing adventures. We have found the disabled vets willing to take the challenge that is offered. Some adventures are what people would consider extreme. For instance, in 2010 Camp Patriot will be making its fourth assent up Mt Rainier, 14, 410 foot High Mountain in Washington State. Thus far in the three previous years, Camp Patriot has helped three blind disabled vets, two with prosthetic legs and three who suffered major internal and structural injuries attempt the climb. In 2009 we had an Army Ranger who was paralyzed from the neck down 6 months prior to the climb. It was an all out struggle for him to take on the challenge of 14, 410 feet of steep climbing but he reached deep and made it to 11,000 feet. That same year we had our national spokesman Ryan Job a retired Navy SEAL who was totally blinded in a year earlier by a sniper shot in Ramadi Iraq come back to the mountain to help others climb the beast. We lost in 2009, he was heaven bound on September 24, 2009 just two months after helping others reach beyond what they thought was possible. Ryan Job was and is an inspiration to many men and women who face challenges due to injuries.
How many people do you reach?
Since starting we have taken over 100 hundred disabled vets on a variety of adventures, some extreme like Rainier, others were just having fun at Seattle Seahawk games, concerts, motorcycle rides through Glacier Park or fishing and hunting adventures around the country. Our goal is to acquire property in the Montana, Idaho or Wyoming and build a 30,000 sq foot log lodge and bring 20 disabled vets per week to the lodge. Until then we try to get twenty or so out per year on various adventures.
What are the biggest obstacles you face when trying to reach people?
It has been a challenge getting plugged into veterans. Understandably the VA has strict rules on releasing information or even names to organizations like ours. So we have relied on word of mouth, military transition barracks and advertising on the web. And raising Funds!!!
How can our readers get involved?
Any and all financial donations are helpful. If you readers know of someone who would donate property in Idaho, Wyoming or Montana it would be a huge blessing. If any of your readers know CEO’s of corporations that would team up with Camp Patriot that would be a blessing as well. Companies like Wrangler, Justin Boots, Seattle Seahawks, Fast Signs, Ranch and Home, Sunwest Sportswear have been very generous and we would like to meet more folks like them. It means a great deal to the disabled vets to see corporations like those who dig into their pockets and provide the funds necessary to help the disabled vets get back into the outdoors.
What message would you like to communicate to our readers?
Most of your readers are probably veterans. We would love the opportunity to tell them thank you for your service to America, the defense of Freedom around the world and the defense of our Constitution. God bless you and if Camp Patriot can help you get back into the outdoors if you are disabled please send us an email so we can get you on our list.
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