Apr 17, 2024

Supporting Military and Veterans through Fly Fishing in Wild Places

John Messenger - Founder and President

In a world that often feels chaotic and overwhelming, finding solace in nature can be a powerful antidote. For many active duty military and veterans, the healing power of the great outdoors is especially profound. That's where Veterans Backcountry Adventures comes in, we offer a unique opportunity for current and former special operators to reconnect with nature, themselves, each other and their families. 

 Founded with the mission of providing therapeutic outdoor experiences for active duty military and veterans, Veterans Backcountry Adventures is a 501(c)(3) non profit that partners with organizations like Gorge Fly Shop to offer unforgettable experiences in some of the most beautiful and remote locations in the country. From fly fishing in pristine rivers to backpacking through rugged wilderness, these trips are designed to not only challenge participants physically, but also to provide a sense of camaraderie and support. 

 VBA was established to address a specific need within the military and veterans nonprofit sector. Our approach sets us apart from other well-intentioned charities that support service members and veterans in two key ways. Firstly, our trips are entirely organized, conducted, and led by peers. Through our experience, we have recognized that many members desire and benefit from taking control of their own experiences. This empowerment is challenging to achieve in programs where participants feel like passive observers. We have also observed that the group dynamic can be significantly altered when individuals from outside the special operations community, even with good intentions, are involved. 

 Secondly, we prioritize fostering camaraderie above all else, believing that this approach yields significant benefits. While many programs emphasize mental health as a primary focus, this can sometimes come across as artificial to seasoned special operators. By emphasizing camaraderie and the concept of teamwork, we believe that positive mental health outcomes will naturally follow. 

 One of the key aspects of Veterans Backcountry Adventures is the focus on building a community of like-minded individuals who understand the unique challenges that veterans face. By bringing together individuals who have served in special operations units, the organization creates a space where participants can share their experiences, support each other, and form lasting bonds that extend beyond the duration of the trip. 

 Our organization, Veterans Backcountry Adventures, is dedicated to providing challenging and rewarding outdoor experiences for participants. We meticulously plan, fund, and coordinate these adventures. Using military terminology, we establish the Task, Conditions, and Standards for each trip and develop a CONOP (Concept of Operation) accordingly. 

 Gorge Fly Shop, a renowned outdoor retailer known for its commitment to conservation and community, plays a crucial role in supporting Veterans Backcountry Adventures. By providing gear, expertise, and logistical support, Travis, Lyndsey, John, Charlie and the whole team at Gorge Fly Shop helps ensure that veterans have everything they need to make the most of their outdoor adventures. 

 As we continue to recognize and honor the sacrifices made by our military and veterans, organizations like Veterans Backcountry Adventures and partners like Gorge Fly Shop play a vital role in providing support and opportunities for these brave men and women to find peace, purpose, and connection in the great outdoors. By coming together to support these initiatives, we can help ensure that our veterans have the resources and opportunities they need to thrive beyond their service. 

 Previously, we operated on self-funding, limiting the number of participants and frequency of trips. To expand our reach and impact, we now rely on grants, individual donations, and the generous support of our corporate partners. We are deeply grateful for their assistance, as it has been instrumental in our growth and success. 

 If you are interested in contributing to our cause, please visit our webpage for donation information. For inquiries regarding corporate sponsorship, please reach out to us directly at inquiry@vbaor.org. 

 In a world that can often feel divided and disconnected, the power of nature to bring people together, heal wounds, and inspire growth is a force to be reckoned with. Through programs like Veterans Backcountry Adventures, we can harness that power to create a brighter, more connected future for our military, veterans and our communities as a whole. 

John Messenger, Founder @ President 

Veterans Backcountry Adventures 


"The Gorge"

Gorge Fly Shop Team - 541.386.6977

"Fly Fish the World with Us"

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