What TRR Means to Me

Bill Butler, Chapter Coordinator

Team River Runner (TRR) has helped me in more ways than I think I can name. So, let’s talk about the big one – TRR has helped me to heal.


You might not be able to see it when you meet me, but I am a little bit broken from my time in the Military. Sure, I have all the normal aches and pains that comes with the challenge of serving one’s country and those tend to slow me down a little, but there are some other injuries you simply don’t see when you look my way.

My experiences in the 82nd Airborne Division left me with some unseen injuries: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and mild Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). As I age, the effects of these seem to creep in more and more to my daily life. Frankly, for a while there, things got pretty dark and scary.

My family and friends have been super-supportive, and I am very thankful for them, but there was a deep, dark trench across my path to recovery that kept me from being able to really heal. Those who were close to me could empathize, sympathize, lend an ear, but they simply couldn’t understand what I was really going through. The safety they provided me got me to that trench, but couldn’t get me across it.

TRR helped to bridge that trench.

As I got more and more involved in TRR, I met more and more people who shared a story similar to mine. I could talk frankly with them, watch them get up to that trench and somehow cross it. I watched some struggle harder than me and watched others succeed and grow and I thought, why not me? And, as I walked beside a couple of my closest friends as they struggled, I began to realize that it was not up to me to make a daring leap across this unknown chasm. I began to realize that my friends were laying bridges across the trench so I could cross in safety.

So, you might see a bunch of Veterans paddling down a river or across a lake, laughing and joking with one another and think, “how nice.” But what you don’t realize is that these paddlers are actually facilitating some incredible healing. Being able to share in these stories and be part of another person’s healing is an incredibly healing experience. All the counselors and medications in the world sometimes pales in comparison to just having the ear of someone who’s been there…who can understand the unspoken pieces of the story.

Thank you, Team River Runner!

Bill Butler