November 11, 2022
November 11 marks Veterans Day and Midland Radio is a proud supporter of those who have served and continue to do so.
We caught up with Mind Over Land, a 501(c)(3) dedicated to connecting with veterans on the trail.
Jonathan Shores is on the Founders Council for the organization and is himself a veteran.
Mind Over Land was created over 10 years ago and has always focused on helping veterans through job training, training service dogs, helping homeless veterans, off-roading, etc. However, the founder retired, giving Shores and the others the organization to run with. The new Founders Council wanted to make the group's focus getting veterans outdoors.
“We decided to have a sole focus of getting outside and reconnecting vets with nature. We want to get them outside of the four walls of their own home, their mind, and reengaging them with other vets specially through vehicle-based adventure," Shores said.
The group takes six trips per year throughout the United States, but is based on the East Coast. The adventures start in January and every other month they head out on an adventure.
“We’ve all benefited from these vehicle-based adventures. We know it will help vets reconnect with like-minded folks through similar and shared experiences like deployments, life in the military, life after the military, and navigating all of its various challenges, and getting the to share life just for a few days with folks that have similar bonds and interests.”
The charge for the veterans is limited - only $50 to ensure their spot on the trip. Mind Over Land covers the veteran's gas, good, etc. through donations to the non-profit.
The veterans can drive their own rig if they have one or can ride shotgun with one of the organization members.
Shores is in the Air Force Reserves. He was a recipient of one of these trips years ago. His time with the organization has changed his life.
"I was the recipient of one of these trips years ago. I was going through a pretty difficult time and at the time I was active duty. One of our planes crashed and I lost some friends. I was just trying to find an outlet to really be able to disconnect from everything. I just needed to let my mind wander because that is all I could think about at the time. Being able to get out there and share something with an Army guy or a Marine who had lost other friends in battle or difficult situations was really helpful," he said.
Shores said the organization members aren't therapists, don't claim to be therapists, but adds that there is something therapeutic about being in the outdoors.
“It’s one thing to talk to a therapist who tries to help you through that, but it can be hard when that person doesn’t have that type of experience. Just hearing what other folks had gone through, how they had persevered through it, or how they were still struggling, and for us to realize it’s ok to be struggling and to build that brotherhood or sisterhood is really powerful.”
For Shores, helping other veterans through these trips continues to bring him joy.
“Trying to put together an experience where vets don’t have to worry about anything other than showing up and pointing a steering wheel, their mind can enjoy what they’re doing without having to second and third guess things, is a highlight. It’s helped me remind myself when we’re helping veterans that- one, it’s ok that you’ve had these experiences and struggles. Two, there is something very therapeutic for me in knowing that you’re helping another veteran out and getting them through the fog," he said.
If you're interested in helping veterans through Mind Over Land, you can donate to the organization here.
Mind Over Land uses Midland's GMRS handheld two-way radios along with Midland's MXT400 MicroMobile Two-Way Radios and MXT275 Two-Way Radio. The group levels up their GMRS two-way radio range with the help of Midland's MXTA26 6dB Gain Whip Antenna.
“There’s only one problem with Midland Radios and that is they last too long. I’ve had the same radio for no joke about 10 years. It just keeps working.”
With their military experience, Shores said they are a well-oiled machine when it comes to convoys, but that can be difficult without reliable communication.
“We’ve been in situations where we’ve been separated and we’re in the thick of the woods with no cellphone service. We can always rely on our trusty Midlands to get us through it all. We’ve been in places where we’ve been five to eight miles apart where we can communicate. That’s huge for us.”
Shores said the GMRS two-way radios are both the contingency plan and tertiary plan for communication. He is particularly impressed with durability of the handhelds.
“They just work when you need them to work. There’s a lot of communication devices that are spotty and you’re kind of crossing your fingers, hoping and praying that they work. Some of our handhelds have really taken a beating and somehow they still work. They’re so reliable.”
The GMRS two-way radios don't just provide reliable information, but they help build a camaraderie and connection amongst the veterans.
"While we’re riding, we can talk to each other about what we’re dealing with, the struggles that we’re going through in life, or just general banter. A lot of times early on the banter really just breaks down the wall for us so that we can just have much more deep and rich conversations when a vet feels like it is needed.”
The radios are also part of the group's time-honored traditions out on the trails.
“One of our favorite things that we do on the trips is we like to give folks trail names after we get to know their personality. It’s kind of a right of passage. Those trail names are always done through the radio as we’re driving. It’s fun to give them out and hear everyone’s reaction to them.”
Shores said Veterans Day means something to every single veteran when acknowledged by the general public, but even more when it's veteran to veteran.
"It’s bigger for veterans because it’s the ability for us to recognize each other. There are folks that I have served with that just because life happens you don’t get to communicate with as much as you would like. Every year on Veterans Day, they’re reaching out or I’m reaching out. We take care of each other.”
For him, it is a recognition of the bond he shares with fellow servicemen and women.
“It’s the one day a year that the people you know would do literally anything for you are just going to remind you that they’re always there for you.”