Heroes on the River hosts skydiving event for combat veterans

Published: Jul. 24, 2021 at 7:18 PM EDT
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NEW MARKET, Va. (WHSV) - On Saturday, the non-profit Heroes on the River kicked off a two-day special skydiving event for over 50 combat veterans and their families from across the east coast.

The group hosted the event for the fourth time and gave veterans a chance to get their adrenaline pumping. “

Two years ago, I went back to Vietnam to kind of close the circle, so I got two items knocked off on my bucket list. The second one will be today. I really can’t wait for this,” said Howard Synesael, a Vietnam War veteran from New York.

Heroes on the River is dedicated to helping veterans through outdoor activities, and on Saturday they gave them a chance to experience the thrill of skydiving.

“Part of what they lose when they get out is they don’t have that excitement and that adrenaline, we want to give that same feeling back,” said Adam Packham, the founder of Heroes on the River and a veteran from Winchester, VA.

The event took place at Skydive Shenandoah in New Market. They said they were happy to partner with the non-profit.

“These guys and women have given a lot, they’ve given a lot, they’ve been through some hard times, so if we can give a little positive back, especially in the times we have nowadays, it’s a good thing,” said Rich Winstock, the owner of Skydive Shenandoah.

Heroes on the River said it’s important that veterans are there for each other and they use these events to help them connect.

“Having a place where veterans can go to be with other veterans, communicate with other veterans build friendships, be somewhere where you can be with someone who understands where you’re coming from, what you’ve been through,” said Adam Packham.

These connections can be very therapeutic, one veteran said events like this help him with things he’s struggled with since leaving the military in 2013.

“I downward spiraled into depression because I wasn’t around my brothers and sisters anymore, coming here immediately I felt that sense of comradery, the sense of belonging again, something that I hadn’t felt for a long time,” said Joseph Martinez, a combat veteran who served in Afghanistan.

In addition to building friendships, the event also gave veterans the chance to remember the fallen.

“I guess I’d like to dedicate this jump to all those who serve and did serve, brothers and sisters from Vietnam who didn’t come back,” said Howard Synesael.

Anyone interested in learning more about Heroes on the River can connect with them here.

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