Veteran program faces funding obstacle at Break the Barriers

Alyssa Flores Image
Saturday, November 12, 2022
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There are 17 programs that serve about 800 veterans each year including swimming, exercise, and personal training.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- After a stroke paralyzed half his body in 2008, Army Veteran Larry Green came to Break the Barriers to give archery a shot.

"It made me feel great," he said. "Veterans like shooting things."

Larry uses a wheelchair. So he gears up with the special equipment manufactured for him by a local car dealership and Break the Barriers.

"They came up with this idea of shooting through my foot," he said.

He presses on a foot pedal to fire his bow.

"Since I had a stroke in 2008, the word 'can't' came into my vocabulary. 'I can't do this. I can't do that,'" he said. "I came to Break the Barriers and found that 'can't' is a bad word. There is a way and they will find a way."

That same tenacity is driving the leaders at Break the Barriers to try to keep their veteran programs afloat after they didn't get a $180,000 federal grant for the second year in a row. Over the past eight years, the grant has accounted for more than half of veteran program's funding.

"I don't think we will even know the reasons why we didn't get it," said Tyler Hergenrader, Veteran's Director at Break the Barriers. "But now we are just asking for the community to help us support and continue these programs."

There are 17 programs that serve about 800 veterans each year including swimming, exercise, and personal training.

"Some of these vets, we are their only family," said Hergenrader. "And they are here four to six hours a day participating in six to eight things."

The money has allowed vets to travel for competitive archery too.

"To actually be able to say that you can compete doing something that you didn't think you would be able to do," said Larry.

He says what he's learned here has helped him find independence everywhere else, keeping his life on target.

"At home, if I have to do something, I think, 'How would they do it at Break the Barriers? What would they do?' And then, you just do it," said Larry.

For more information on how to support the veteran programs at Break the Barriers, click here.