Thank you for your interest in the Bar X Project. Never in the history of this great nation has there been 18+ years of sustained combat operations supported and fought by an all-volunteer military force. The men and women who serve our nation today know what it’s like to put others above self. This type of character is rare in our society today and all but extinct in the materialistic world we live in.
With the drawdown of forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, many veterans have returned home and struggle to smoothly transition into civilian life. The Wounded Warrior Project recently completed a study of returning veterans and found that 400,000 to 600,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are struggling to return to normal life. Currently, 22 veterans a day are feeling so hopeless that they are choosing to take their own life rather than face normal life in America. It is a national tragedy when any veteran returns home from war and chooses to end it all because they can’t deal with the transition or fail to matriculate back into society.
The lost potential of these veterans can never be measured. These staggering figures confirm that we are in the midst of a national crisis. It is our belief that these suicides occur due to the fact that we as a nation are in uncharted waters with so many returning veterans finding so little in common with the 99% of the American population that have never served.
It is our belief at The Bar X Project that reestablishing the special bond forged in combat overseas is an untapped avenue to combatting PTSD and helping Marines return to normal life. Reestablishing this bond serves to remind veterans of their worth to their brothers-in-arms and help them realize their unlimited value and potential as they transition into civilian life. We invite you to join us in our mission through giving, hosting a trip, or helping us spread the word.
James Moran, Major, USMCR, Founder and Executive Director
The mission of The Bar X Project is to reunite combat wounded veterans with Marines from their former units in order to reestablish the special bond forged during combat and set these veterans up for success in their future endeavors in the civilian world.
How we execute
We provide our wounded warriors an all-expense paid fly-fishing trips to Montana, where the Marines stay at fly fishing lodges and cabins graciously donated by friends of The Bar X Project.
The program began at the Bar X Ranch owned by the Lowe family of Montana. The ranch sits on 300+ acres along the Yellowstone River. The Lowes continue to host Marines each year, even as we have expanded with trips a number of other lodges across the beautiful state of Montana.
On Day 1, the Marines fly into Montana and get settled in, reuniting with their buddies and catching up on old times. On Day 2, local guides volunteer their time and drift boats to guide the Marines down the river, where they learn the art of fly-fishing and enjoy the peacefulness of the vast American West.
Flights are paid for by StrongPoint Holdings LLC and a number of other donors. A local outfitter, Wild Fly Angler, provides fly rods at cost and they are purchased by J.R. Reger (local Montana supporter of veterans). At the conclusion of the weekend, each Marine gets to keep their fly rod.
These trips began in 2011 and have continued annually ever since. The Marines selected to participate in these trips have come from the Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Regiment for the first two iterations. After the first two trips, wounded Marines have been sought out from units in which the founders served or through a reference of a wounded Marine in need.
As we know all too well, there is no shortage of wounded Marines from the past 18+ years of war. Our goal is to bring Marines out in buddy pairs in order to reunite Marines that endured a traumatic event together overseas. Our organization also brings out Marines who have been wounded or struggled with PTSD and overcame it.
Our hope is to provide examples of success stories from fellow Marines who have endured similar injuries or struggles and who can provide guidance and counseling to those in need. We do a fireside chat the last night before dinner to discuss current world events, transitioning into civilian life, the Department of Veterans Affairs, job opportunities, along with benefits such as the Post 9/11 GI Bill.
Our older Marines serve as a great example for the young Marines and are a good resource for them to stay in touch with at the conclusion of the weekend. The feedback received from the Marines who have attended these trips has been overwhelming and provide the motivation to continue these trips indefinitely.