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Angels In Our Midst

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Angles in Our Midst (Heroes on the Water)

Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 01:43 PM CDT
Hundreds of thousands of our military men and women have returned from the global war on terror bearing scars, visible and unseen. Volunteers across the country are taking many of them to the water to heal and to share with the Angels in Our Midst.
      
"Heroes on the Water is an organization that provides kayak fishing to help injured military personnel to relax, to rehabilitate and to reintegrate into the community," said Michael "Doc" Findley, EC Heroes on the Water

There are 36 chapters in 23 states comprised of 1,100 volunteers. The Emerald Coast chapter was started by Michael Findley an instructor in the public health master's program at the University of West Florida. He saw the need and the perfect environment for a simple way to help.

"To help them build relationships.  To help them better reconnect to the community.  And to have some fun. At lot of our volunteers are ex military personnel and they have a unique understanding of the needs." said Michael.

Retiring Air Force Chief Master Sergeant Frank Dailey has been on both sides of the heroes program. First as a recipient.

"Taking care of a squadron that had lost some of their teammates in combat overseas. And the stress was starting to build," said Frank Dailey, Heroes on the Water volunteer. "Getting the experience of the water, the air, nature, the experience of catching a couple of fish; it's amazing the difference in just who I was."

Some of our heroes have been silently lingering for decades.

"Was just looking for an outlet, something to do with other vets. I never talked about being in Vietnam. It was almost 40 years before I got involved," said Buddy Fenstermaker, Vietnam Veteran.

This turned out to be just the therapy he needed and the place where he found comrades who understood.  The peace they find here is something the veterans want to share.  That's why Frank is now a volunteer.

"To help other people that have been down the same road that I have, and give them the same opportunities that I've had by being out with this program," said Frank.

"If we can make some relationships built between some of the volunteers and some of the heroes ... then we've been a success," said Michael.

By all accounts, more than a success.  In fact, the program desperately needs more volunteers to meet the growing number of veterans wanting to participate.  Buddy says he only has one little issue with "Heroes on the Water."

"I don't consider to be a hero.The real heroes are these volunteers who come out here and spend their time and effort to provide services," said Buddy.

Angels in our Midst is brought to you by Sacred Heart Children's Hospital.Angles in Our Midst (Heroes on the Water)


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