Woman helps veterans as rafting guide for Team River Runner

Human Interest

Julie Nathe is an Air Force veteran, nurse and longtime raft guide

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A local nurse is helping veterans find health and healing — but not from inside a hospital room.

On top of being a pediatric nurse at OHSU, Julie Nathe provides adventure on the Deschutes River.

Nathe joined Team River Runner — a national group that creates paddling programs for service members.

Julie Nathe rafting on the Deschutes River with Team River Runner. (KOIN)

Nathe has been a boater for more than 20 years, a commercial raft guide for 19 years and joined the Portland chapter of Team River Runner 6 years ago.

Veterans say the trips help them put aside what happened to them in the past and focus on having fun.

“It’s also very amazing when you can see that transition happen,” Nathe said. “And I love it when they talk about the experience and how they’ve changed and grown into it.”

It helps that Nathe can relate to them — she served four years in the Air Force at Travis Air Force Base.

“We communicate a lot with each other as a team, even with my clients, my patients, that’s what you have to do right and the more knowledge we all have the more empowered we feel,” Nathe said. “As much as I give to them, they give so much more to me and I don’t ever want to stop doing that.”

Team River Runner only rafts on the Deschutes River in the summer. In September and October, the team takes veterans and their families on the Willamette River. They also offer sessions in a pool to help anyone who might not be as comfortable but still want to take advantage of the health benefits.

You can still sign up for family paddles at eNRG Kayaking in Oregon City on Sept. 20 and Oct. 4. There is also a float from Dodge Park to Oxbow Park on the Sandy River on New Year’s Day with a BBQ.

If you’re interested in signing up, contact chapter coordinator Kay Sutherland at kay.sutherland@teamriverrunner.org

KOIN 6 News anchor Jennifer Hoff’s series, Women Crush Wednesday, highlights women who are crushing it. Who do you know breaking the glass ceilings, inspiring others, doing good?  Send a message to Jennifer Hoff.

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