BILLINGS – Speaking of veterans, recovery through sport is the idea behind a program devoted to helping service men and women recover from traumatic injuries.
It’s called the Semper Fi Fund, an organization helps wounded veterans with the recovery process, but not with hospitals or therapy.
This unique recovery program has taken close to 200 post 9/11 vets on adventures across the US.
The most recent healing experience happened right in our own back yard.
Venturing out into unknown territory, with a group of unfamiliar faces is an experience these 18 veterans have had before.
But this time, they saddled up to herd cattle through the Big Horn Mountains.
“Even though we – a lot of us hadn’t met before, once we got on the back of a horse and started herding cattle – we were doing what we do best, communicating and accomplishing a mission,” said veteran Jeremy Williams.
The mission is to bring together American heroes for a trip down the road to recovery.
“I figured that maybe it would help with the things we saw over seas and I thought maybe some of the images we saw in bat country would replace some of the images we saw over there,” said Williams.
Gerald Jennex, a 32-year-old veteran from Michigan, said the experience gave him the opportunity to to see the areas natural beauty.
“An amazing, amazing sight seeing opportunity; the sun rising and setting,” said Jennex. “We had some beautiful views of moose and bucks. Just the natural environment and to see what the earth really looks like. Its peacefulness and tranquility.”
Peacefulness and tranquility are just two ways to describe this unique healing process.
For seven years, the Semper Fi Fund has offered these retreats to post 9-11 veterans, and for all the service they’ve paid this country, they pay nothing for these experiences.
“Just being back among the marines and seeing that we still work with that unit cohesion,” said Jennex. “It’s just a blessing for sure.”
And though they say goodbye and board different flights home, this blessing is something they say they’ll share forever.