Veterans raft the Colorado River for Warriors on Cataract

[Photo by Murice D. Miller / Moab Sun News]

Disabled military veterans shared the experience of a whitewater rafting trip on the Colorado River on Friday, May 17, at the annual Warriors on Cataract trip in Moab. The group departed from the Potash Boat Ramp with Sheri Griffith Expeditions. Warriors on Cataract organizer Fred Solheim said local commercial river running outfitters graciously run the veterans on the trips at a discounted fare in collaboration with local hotels that give the veterans discounted lodging for the event. This year marked the ninth year for the event, and Solheim said about 500 veterans have taken a whitewater rafting trip with Warriors on Cataract since it began. “These trips have shown to be very effective in overcoming disabilities and healing and reintegrating our disabled veterans back into civilian life,” Solheim said. “Some have told us they have weaned themselves of substance abuse (a ubiquitous problem among disabled vets), and the VA has told us many have been taken off High Risk Suicide Watch after the raft trip.” Solheim said the National Park Service has been welcoming of the trip, and

Canyonlands National Park offers “most of what we would wish for as a therapeutic and healing experience: beauty, peace, adventure, excitement, much camp fire time to decompress and bond and share experiences.” Other local business owners also participate each year, such as Lin Ottinger, owner of Moab Rock Shop, who gives veterans a tour of the petroglyphs on Potash Road. The support networks that are spawned on these trips are invaluable, Solheim said.