By Geoffrey Roper, Fort Carson MountaineerMay 18, 2010
WESTCLIFFE, Colo.---Dave Roever was a Navy riverboat gunner with the elite brown-water, black-beret unit in Vietnam when he suffered severe combat injuries from a phosphorous grenade exploding in his hand, burning the majority of his body. Roever was hospitalized for 14 months and underwent numerous surgeries.
His experiences inspired him to create The Eagles Summit Ranch in Westcliffe, a nonprofit organization created to help wounded Soldiers deal with injuries sustained in combat.
Roever said he wanted to help other servicemembers who suffered injuries by bringing them to his ranch free of cost, making sure they know how much others appreciate them for their sacrifice and service to their country.
"This is the reason for the Wounded Warrior Alliance --- to bring about the confluence of the modern-day warrior with the lessons learned from the warriors in history, in this case the Vietnam veteran," said Roever.
Roever recently brought 14 wounded Soldiers to participate in activities offered as part of the ranch's program.
The ranch staff uses physical and spiritual activities to help Soldiers readjust to everyday life. Those activities include team-building exercises, hiking and backpacking, driving all-terrain vehicles, horseback riding, fishing, a rifle range and workout gym.
"It is my firm belief, through experience in the last three years of our function at Eagles Summit Ranch, that I could not have embarked on a more rewarding, successful endeavor. The lives of the warriors in this alliance are being changed so dramatically," said Roever.
Retired Staff Sgt. John Daniel Shannon, a Purple Heart recipient from injuries sustained in Iraq, sees this program as a way for wounded Soldiers to heal both inside and out while learning to cope with their injuries.
"The primary contributing factor is the veterans getting to spend time together in a healing environment. As a personal note, as someone who has been through this program, there are no words to describe my thanks to Dave and all his staff," said Shannon.
Shannon also said he is just one of many who were inspired by a trip to Eagles Summit Ranch. Since retiring from the Army, he has also volunteered at the ranch to help other Soldiers who had experienced injuries in combat.
Roever said hearing words such as Shannon's is what keeps him motivated to help those in need.
"If a warrior can just see far enough to have hope, then they can see forever," he said.
For more information about Eagles Summit Ranch and Wounded Warrior Alliance program, go to http://www.woundedwarriorsalliance.com or call 817-238-2000.