By Kris Coleman, Founder, President and CEO of Red Five Security
Red Hands Helping, the charitable arm of Red Five Security, supported Fox Bravo Overland this summer in getting first responders and veterans into the wild for some nature therapy amongst peers. Fox Bravo was started back in 2017 with a handful of former veterans and FBI Agents that coordinated overland trips to help them deal with PTSD and other stressors. This cadre of experienced operators turned gear-heads has evolved over time into a group that has found a new mission – to help first responders and veterans deal with stress by sponsoring, coordinating, and executing overland experiences.
Overlanding is the ability to travel overland with well-equipped 4×4 vehicles in a slow, deliberate fashion to achieve a travel goal. This group has evolved into an amazing cadre of men and women doing great things for our heroes to help them get out of their heads and into the healthy outdoors.
Over the last couple of years Red Five has been a sponsor of Fox Bravo Overland as they expanded operations, bringing in US veterans in 2018, then adding veterans from Australia, New Zealand and the UK in 2019. They took 2020-2022 off for Covid before relaunching in June 2023.
This time around I volunteered my time as a resiliency coach for Fox Bravo’s Operation Western Round Up, and Red Five provided a cash donation and provided gear. I traveled to Grand Junction, CO to link up with the Fox Bravo Overland coordinators to do final preps before the participants arrived. This year’s participants came from around the world – the United Kingdom, Norway, New Zealand, the US, and South Africa. Fox Bravo’s fundraising efforts paid pay for their airfares, all food, campsite fees, and fuel for the vehicles. The vehicles were donated by the original Fox Bravo members, and some from Cameron Advanced Mobility – a company that is also a Red Five partner for REAL Experiences.
Red Team and Blue Team organized themselves and made their way across an austere route of 400 miles out into the Canyonlands of Utah and back to Colorado. The Sierra Support team leap-frogged ahead of Red and Blue on their trails, getting ahead of them, making camp, and starting dinner each day before the teams arrived. The food was amazing, the camaraderie welcomed, and the scenery unmatched.
Seventeen veterans and first responders participated across two teams, and 9 well-equipped vehicles. This team’s challenges ranged from moderate disability in hearing or mobility, to significant disabilities with PTSD, a double amputee, and traumatic brain injuries (TBI). The two teams competed in events including: land navigation, archery, marksmanship, darts, cornhole, fire starting, and axe throwing. There was something for everyone.
Over the course of 7 days I was inspired by their stories, learning a great deal about myself while supporting these heroes’ trek across the American West. We were all able to again work on a team, achieve specific goals, and get back to the team spirit we had enjoyed in our previous lives in the military, on SWAT, or responding to emergencies. We went from city to wilderness, from caravanning across 100 degree austere desert to winching our vehicles through 3 feet of snow (in June mind you) at 12,500 feet elevation in Colorado. To see how these men and women handled themselves over the course of the trip reminds you how small some of our daily challenges really are in comparison, and it was truly inspirational.
It’s important for each of you to understand how our Red Hands Helping efforts and funds help others – not just for this effort, but for all our efforts. I’m here to bear witness to the impact RHH has had on Fox Bravo Overland, and these 17 worthy heroes.
Thank you for continuing to support Red Hands Helping in all its endeavors – from local to global. Our collective efforts make a difference in people’s lives.