OTTUMWA — Not all heroes wear capes. Some join the military and give people the opportunity to enjoy freedom.

Bernie Parrish works part-time at the Wapello County Veteran Affairs office. He hopes to raise $5,000 for Healing at English River Outfitters (HERO), a nonprofit organization in Washington, Iowa dedicated to helping veterans with PTSD.

Parrish said HERO is essentially a resort where veterans can hunt, fish and enjoy fellowship. The mission is to “restore veterans’ strength and independence by providing a safe outdoor experience that promotes healing and closure, as well as, family integration,” HERO’s website said.

Parrish is raising money to have a room built at the resort dedicated toward Sgt. Harry Garth Green, a native Ottumwan and lifelong friend who took his own life after struggling with PTSD.

“That’s why I’m doing it,” he said, “I lost friends over there and stuff. I want to do my little $5,000 part in Southeast Iowa. You gotta do something. They come back here and no one understands them. Our veterans are going overseas because our country called them to and to protect our freedoms and our way of life and they come back broken. We have to fix that.”

“That’s why I want them to donate to me to help me and everybody else that’s doing this to help them,” Parrish added. “It’s a normal setback in their life. It’s a process. I want them to be able to heal and be able to have some stability and normalcy in their life because they come back angry and then there’s bad things — divorces, the children's dad don’t act the same, Mom don’t act the same. It’s not just the soldiers, it’s the spouses, it’s the whole community to get back to their former selves.”

Parrish is currently at $3,000 and hopes to reach his $5,000 goal by April 1. Anyone interested in donating can contact Parrish at (641) 799-0634.

— Chiara Romero can be reached at cromero@ottumwacourier.com.

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