AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – For some veterans it can be hard to transition back in to civilian life. Luckily, programs like “Veterans for Clean Water” give them a new mission.
Veterans meet at the Hammond’s Ferry Boat Ramp in Augusta, Georgia every Thursday. The Savannah River keeper’s volunteer program gets these men and women out on the water for sampling, restoration projects, and just to get involved.
“When we take off the uniform, being a veteran myself, there’s something that’s missing and we can’t put our finger on exactly what it is and I truly believe that volunteering is part of that key. We’re serving again after having served in the military. It’s a smaller community that we’re serving now, but we’re giving back and I think that’s vitally important to a veteran that has given in their time of need,” said Truck Carlson, the program’s coordinator.
The veterans’ work on the water is important. They’re informing people of places where they’re going to interact with water and what the water quality is. It’s also a time for them to relax, enjoy the scenery, and give back to the community.
“It’s very humbling watching the smiles on their faces. Some of these guys and girls will talk more in an hour on the water than they do all week. I remember one of the first times we went out and that night one of the spouses texted me and said, ‘Truck, you sent home a man I haven’t seen in years’,” said Carlson.
“It gives us an opportunity for myself and other veterans to give back to the community. It kind of helps to fill a void of selfless service that we used to do in the military,” said veteran, Sean White.
“It gives me that sense of camaraderie that I miss from being in the military,” said veteran, Ben Streubel.
After speaking to these veterans about what they do, I wanted to experience it for myself.
It’s my first time kayaking. Truck, do you have any tips for me?
“Brandon, this is too easy. I call it marine proof. Even a marine like me can figure it out. Slow and smooth and smooth and fast. Just don’t try to Hulk smash it, or you’ll go nowhere fast,” said Carlson.
Are you going to pull me out of the water if I go straight in?
“We’re going to keep you on the water and not in the water,” said Carlson.
Seeing “Veterans for Clean Water” in action was inspiring and the sense of camaraderie could be felt as we went up the river.
“We’re still serving after having served and being able to alert the community, who’s using these water ways, about the quality of water is a great opportunity for both us and the community,” said Carlson.
For More info on “Veterans for Clean Water” CLICK HERE
Here’s some bonus content of our trip up the river!