For more information on how you can donate to the Four Corners Warriors Extreme Adventure, call 505-326-5723.
FARMINGTON — They may be on temporary leave from tours in Afghanistan or Iraq, in rehabilitation centers receiving medical support, in a burn center or reintegration unit. Or they are veterans, returned from war, making the adjustment to civilian life after battle.
All are physically injured, wounded in combat, dealing with a wide spectrum of injuries. Some are missing limbs or have severe burns from roadside bombs. Many of them are leading new chapters in their lives with some form of post-traumatic stress disorder.
But thanks to the volunteer efforts of the community, 10 soldiers and veterans from the Four Corners area will be treated to a unique kind of vacation next month.
The wounded warriors will fish at Quality Waters near Navajo Lake, take in a couple of Connie Mack World Series games, hit the hills for off-road rock crawling, travel on the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad in Colorado, see the Bar D Wranglers in Durango, Colo., and be celebrated during a local parade. The week is sponsored by Four Corners Warriors Extreme Adventure, which is part of Crossroads Community Church.
The trip, paid for with donations from around the community, covers the veterans' airfare, meals, lodgings and expenses.
Started last year, the trip is an all-volunteer effort with no administrative costs, said Bill Simkins, coordinator for the warriors vacation and member of Crossroads.
"It all started with a question I asked a friend, 'Wouldn't it be nice to take some wounded warriors fishing?'" Simkins said. "And it's just grown from there to a real once-in-a-lifetime event for these warriors."
Simkins is veteran himself who served 20 years in the U.S. Army, though he never saw combat.
"But this is about them," he said of the wounded warriors. "To give them, the wounded warriors, a lift, something special for their service."
Simkins has received a lot of support from across San Juan County to make the event possible.
Recently, he was surprised to learn that a newly formed junior civitan group had selected the wounded warriors to receive the proceeds from a yard sale at the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Aztec. At the club's last meeting, Simkins was presented with a check for $506 for the warriors.
"We all picked the wounded warriors because it's a good cause," said Taylor Henson, 13, vice president of the Helpful Heroes Junior Civitan Club. "I feel really good about what we did. We just want to make a difference."
Henson and 15 others junior civitans will also purchase, prepare and serve lunch to the veterans during their visit.
Simkins was especially touched by the young civitans' acknowledgement and help for the veterans.
"More often than people realize, military folks get out of service and they just disappear," he said. "This effort is all for them, 100 percent."