AFF Paddle off The War

Allied Forces Foundation Inc

AFF Paddle off The War

AFF Paddle off The War

The 'Paddle off the War' is an epic adventure which will see Marine Joshua Ploetz come face to face with the Great Mississippi River - over a 64 days single man canoe down the 2,350 miles river.

Joshua Ploetz is a veteran suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS), committed to conquer the hidden war which rages within him and many veterans returning from conflicts around the world.

This colossal challenge will not only test his courage and his warrior spirit to complete the extreme conditions of the largest river in North America but will examine his sheer determination and strength as warrior.

Some interesting facts:

- Average river speed at headwaters: 1.2 miles per hour and the river speed at New Orleans: 3 miles per hour.
- River Length, about 2,350 miles, at the narrowest point isabout 20 feet, just below Lake Itasca and widest point is about 4 Miles atLake Onalaska near LaCrosse, Wisconsin.
- The water depth of the river is at its shallowest just below Lake Itasca, is about than 3 inches and at its deepest about 200 feet at New Orleans.
- Elevation above sea level at Lake Itasca: 1,475 feet and about sea level at the Gulf of Mexico: 0 feet, more than half of the total drop of the river occurs in Minnesota.
- The Mississippi River drains 41% of the continental United States.

Key events:

Start: Lake Itasca, May 19, 2014
Break in Winona, June 10-14, 2014
Begin paddling again, June 15, 2014
Arrive in Venice, LA, August 1, 2014

Support Joshua 'Paddle off The War' Challenge:

Follow, track, and support his epic event online at which will show his current location, images and blogs of what he is doing over the 64 day. Joshua would like to promote PTS awareness and the mission of the Baton which he is carrying in his canoe from Lake Itasca to Venice, LA, by raising money to help those who have lost a veteran due to PTS and Combat Stress.

The route that Joshua is taking can be found on the AFF website and we ask you to come and support him throughout the challenge. All funds raised will go to support fellow wounded warriors and suffers of PTS here in the USA.

This first giving page is a simple and easy  way to show support to Joshua. Please share the address with your friends and colleagues:

For more information please visit our website at

Joshua Ploetz: Biography

Josh Ploetz graduated in 2002 from St. Charles High School, St. Charles MN, a small mid-western town population 4000, and gateway to the Whitewater State Park. Josh had aspirations of making a difference, and joined the Marines, like many of his class after the World Trade Center bombings. Josh did well, and graduated from Camp Pendleton, selected as Machine Gunner. Having served with 3rd Battalion 3rd Marines and 1st Battalion 3rd Marines in Afghanistan, Josh took part in battle and bore witness to many fallen comrades and atrocities.

We smile and wave at our returning soldiers and thank god they have come back to us healthy and whole. But many of our sons, have masked injuries, we can’t see a bandage or any visible scars and take for granted that this soldier may not ever process their thoughts or sleep more than 3 hours at a time again. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, (PTSD) plays a large role in the mental health and welfare of our serving soldiers. The images of war and suffering can’t be erased like an etch-a-sketch; it is a real affliction that if left untreated can leave the soldier a shell of his former self. Josh Ploetz gave up for us; it would take a fraction of his sacrifice to give back to him and other brave young soldiers.

Josh didn’t realize that PTSD would affect more than himself, it wears you down physically and mentally, cost him friendships and his marriage, and realized without the coping mechanisms to recognize all the challenges ahead, things couldn’t get better. After years of combating this debilitating condition, Josh was given help and the tools to overcome the daily challenges set before him. Josh joined Team Semper Fi two years ago, along with the help he has been given since leaving the Marine Corp, he has learned to start enjoying life again. Josh took up biking as part of his physical therapy and recovery and soon it was translated into canoeing. Josh found inspiration in the novel, Floating down the Country, written by Matthew Mohlke; as well as from people like Donna Todd, Combat Casualty Nurse, who suggested a program called “Walk off the War”.

This program was the catalyst to paddle the Mississippi River which he has now dubbed “Paddle off the War” which will not only be challenging but promote awareness for wounded warriors like himself.

Below is a route that wounded Marine Joshua Ploetz USMC is attempting to complete on his own to raise awareness and funds to support PTSD service man and women who are suffering or have lost the battle to help families left behind.

This will be a hard challenge for Joshua who himself is suffering from PTS but wants to ensure that the message of the Baton he will be transiting across the country is passed forward (see

The Baton is a symbol of national conscience

"The Baton is a symbol of national conscience, crafted with care and respect from the handle of a stretcher – symbolizing pride, hope, courage and suffering.

It is a message of gratitude from those who wish to support the brave men and women of our armed forces who regularly risk their lives so that we may live with freedom of choice, peace and safety."


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