A Sad Death in Our Veteran Family- Jason Knoll
“Veteran Jason hiked the whole mile with a stick in his hand, whacking things and playing with it. I couldn’t help but smile. He was behaving like a free boy in the woods. I raised my son, Bryce outdoors, along with his sister Sierra, and so recognized the behavior immediately. Jason was one of twenty Veterans from the Lebanon VA Medical Center, enrolled in a rehab program and out for the day in the woods with River House PA. Jason would disappear over the steep side of the bank as we walked and we’d say, “Where’s Jason?” He was just wanting a better look at the river below, allowing his natural inquisitiveness dictate his actions and movement.”
This post was from five years ago. We have had Veteran Jason Knoll’s presence on most of our outings in the past few years, as in dozens. We knew when Jason was going to become a grandfather; and then he proudly shared photos of his granddaughter. He hiked with Jason, paddled, inner-tubed, ran through the Duncan corn maze with him, stretched in yoga class with him; he tended our camp fire and most importantly, he helped Tim with his cooking chores. Jason was always there to help Tim unload and reload at the end of the event, so much so that the new vets thought he was one of River House’s own (as in board member). He actually was one of our own, as in a member of our close veteran family. Jason is now gone and we are so sad. He died from Covid a few weeks ago. We will miss you terribly, Jason.
A BEAUTIFUL TRIBUTE FROM BOARD MEMBER, TIM MINNICH
Jason had a quality about him that often reminded me of a young boy. Although He had a rugged look and arms covered in tattoos, he looked at even the smallest aspects of our adventures through the eyes of young boy. Jason was never front and cantor for attention. He was always part of the crowd, weaving in and out and from person to person. Usually with a smile on his face and eyes wide open as of he just discovered something new. And that is what Jason had the capability to do, discover something with each experience. Whether it was the joy of feeding a bottle to a calf or learning hot to make Bunyan burgers, he seemed to enjoy every minute. What I remember consistently about Jason was the unassuming way he helped at the beginning and end of every event. He would always be one of the first to help setup or carry things in from the car, and always without being asked. He just started helping. Cleanup and takedown would be the same way. He didn’t even ask what we needed him to do, he just grabbed stuff and started cleaning up or carrying to the car. He was kind of like one of those quiet superheroes. Often he would be doing this while everyone else was saying their goodbyes or just gathering. And there would be Jason off on his own helping out somehow, and never seeking a compliment or a thank you. I will miss his laugh, I will miss his boyish grin. I wish I had taken the time to tell Jason how much I appreciated him over and over, but knowing him he would have looked to the side with a slight smile and just looked for something else to do to help. It doesn’t seem fair that a soldier who experienced so much, suffered so much, and recovered and learned to embrace life should be randomly be taken by Covid. Up until this point, nobody that I knew or had cared for had been lost to Covid. Losing a warrior turned kind and gentle soul just doesn’t seem fair. I can only be grateful that I was able to get to know him even just a little bit through River House.
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