The following is a letter of testimony sent to Warriors & Quiet Waters from a Warrior participant.
I served in the Marine Corps infantry from 2001-2005, with two combat deployments to Iraq in 2003 and 2004. During my second deployment, I suffered a career-ending injury, which altered my life entirely. In an attempt to regain control of my life, I remained busy with school and work — not leaving much time for personal enrichment. Through time, I participated in two injured veteran’s events, both one-day events here in Michigan; neither compared to WQW. Since my time in the Marine Corps, I have been married, been hired on as a firefighter/paramedic (for the past 6 ½ years), had two kids (4- and 6-year-old girls), and have obtained an Associates, Bachelor’s, and a Master’s Degrees. Through this, I have remained busy and tried to prioritize my life, non-regrettably leaving my personal enjoyment last.
After finishing my master’s degree in Organizational Leadership last fall, I stumbled upon Warriors & Quiet Waters. After reading about the organization, I decided to apply. To be honest, I was reluctant to do so and didn’t know if I was fitting for the opportunity as it had been nearly 15 years at that time since I had been injured. I am extremely glad that I went through with the application and the whole process.
I honestly did not know what to expect. Having read about the individual FX on the website, I knew it was going to be a big opportunity but didn't expect how amazing it truly was. From the time our team leader and assistant team leader, Jim Klingaman and Rodney Thurman, picked us up from the airport, the atmosphere was unlike anything I’d ever encountered. It was truly a surreal feeling, knowing that so many people had given their time and money to allow for such an opportunity — an opportunity that provided me with gear, instruction, experiences, and exposure to take away so much for personal enrichment and development.
I was fortunate enough to have a good group of guys in my group: Lawrence Stuemke as my companion, and Rodney Thurman as my guide. I cannot say enough about Rodney and Lawrence, they were truly instrumental in creating such an incredible experience for me. The personal attention I received in everything from casting to bringing in the fish or reading the water to choosing flies was top notch and provided invaluable knowledge. I know that having an ATL as a guide and the Fishing and Lands Partner Manager as my companion is not the norm, but I am so grateful that it worked out that way.
With fullness in my heart, thank you,
If stories like Ryan's inspire you, please consider donating to support other Warriors during the Give Big Gallatin Valley fundraiser May 6-7, 2021. Your gifts during Give Big will help us outfit each Warrior in 2021 with a Sage Fly Rod and Reel to keep.