TMF Volunteer Bill Morris Enjoys Helping Recalibrated Veterans Conquer the Ropes Course

New Hampshire resident Bill Morris travels to Maine every summer, where he owns a property on Long Pond – the same pond that shares property with the Travis Mills Foundation Veterans Retreat in the Belgrade Lakes Region of Maine. Since 2018, he has volunteered with TMF in many different capacities and speaks to the power of the friendships he has formed with participants, volunteers, and staff.

Bill knew a handful of TMF volunteers who encouraged him to begin volunteering with the organization. When the April 2018 Open House took place, he visited the Foundation Property in Rome, Maine, where he had the opportunity to speak with U.S. Army SSG (Ret.) Travis Mills and Volunteer Coordinator, John Romac. In May of that year, Bill attended volunteer orientation and began volunteering later that month.

“It’s a lot of fun. I get great satisfaction out of it. And you know, it’s a way that I can help people who have certainly done so much for us. I enjoy doing that.”

Bill has volunteered to be a greeter, tour guide, pontoon boat driver, dish washer, lawn mower, facilities maintainer and snowshoe guide. His favorite assignment is to work with the post-911 recalibrated veterans and their families on the property’s high ropes course.

“I was drawn to the ropes course by the late Vice President of Programming Kelly Roseberry,” Bill said. “I really like it because there’s a lot of interaction, and it’s just interesting to see the veterans and their families as they tackle the course.”

The ropes course was built by Mike Rowe in 2017 for the opening of the Foundation.

Participants have the option to try a 14-foot and 21-foot course featuring eight obstacles, a quick jump, and a rock wall.

Many participants view this as the highlight of their week, and for Bill, this is the highlight of his volunteer experience with the Foundation.

Bill’s home base on the ropes course is at a point where many participants begin to doubt they have the ability to make it across the second half of the lower level. He finds this to be a great spot for him, as he is able to encourage those participants who are unsure if they can make it to the end.

“You see these people and they are kind of wavering,” Bill said. “I talk to them and try to help them – and get them to do it. Everyone is so different in their reaction to the course – I like that too.”

After hearing the incredible eulogy Kelly’s father, Jim McGaughey, shared during her funeral service, Bill is prepared to continue her legacy by telling participants, “You can do it, I know you can do it.”

Bill has a number of favorite stories from working on the ropes course. Seeing participants connecting with one another – sometimes for the first time, and sometimes for the first time after their injuries is impactful.

“There was a veteran that came,” Bill said. “He was confined to a wheelchair. He came with his family on a Sunday and as greeter I showed him around. It was their first time there. He was really excited because it was the first time he was going to see another recalibrated veteran and he basically said, ‘Who was blown up with me.’”

“I never served in the military so I just can’t fathom that,” Bill said. “The camaraderie they have, and they carry it through. I will never forget that. They are so humble and thankful to volunteers for helping out. But I should be thanking them! And this is one way that I do.”

Seeing veterans interact with each other at the Retreat is a highlight for Bill. It is impactful to him to see the relationships that are formed, or even reformed among recalibrated veterans and their families.

“I’ve done a lot of different volunteering over the years and volunteering at TMF is by far the most rewarding to me,” Bill said. “It’s an outstanding group of people and it’s just so rewarding. There’s something there for just about anyone to volunteer. It covers a complete range. And you set your own schedule.”

Apply to be a volunteer at the Travis Mills Foundation today and impact the lives of post-911 recalibrated veterans and their families.