In 2017, DownRange Excursions was founded by OEF, OIF Combat Infantry veteran Kevin Flack.
Flack was diagnosed with combat PTSD. While at college, Flack was president of his student veterans chapter in college and received a certificate in leadership from the Student Veterans of America and the Military and Family Research Institute of Purdue University. He is currently working toward a degree in psychology with Kaplan University. Aside from fundraising in his community for veterans, he also worked with the Illinois National Guard as a Family Assistance Specialist helping facilitate resources for service members, veterans, and their families.
Flack struggled with combat PTSD and watched his fellow veterans suffer with the same condition. Some of these individuals became overwhelmed with their own PTSD and turned to suicide. Flack discovered that medications often exacerbated the symptoms of combat PTSD and continual talk therapy lacked permanent results. While processing the losses of his fellow veterans who decided to take their own lives, Flack would go kayaking. His trips became increasingly longer and soon turned into overnight excursions on the rivers of Iowa. It was on one of these outings that he realized that the kayak trips, work out regiments, and other nonprofit programs geared to help veterans seemed to yield more successful results to mitigate his PTSD symptoms. Flack’s regiment allowed him to find a state of peace that was originally inaccessible when he used standard treatment techniques. This brought about the epiphany that these same alternative, therapeutic methods could be brought to other veterans and service members in an effort to help them to find the same relief.
After discussing this concept with the director of a local veteran center, the idea continued to grow. The DownRange Excursions team has been working diligently to bring this vision to reality and create a healthy change for the lives of those suffering with Combat PTSD and other issues in the hopes of saving lives and keeping families together!
Our four founding principles:
DownRange Excursions is a credible and accountable organization driven to provide a network of like-minded individuals who are committed to promoting a healthy, therapeutic alternative for veterans facing feelings of isolation, thoughts of suicide, and conventional usage of medication.
DownRange Excursions deeply encourages involvement and interaction with the outdoors. We are a non-political and non-discriminatory organization, dedicated to supporting the emotional and physical well-being of vetted veterans who maintain the DownRange Excursions standard for their own health and wellness, as well as their immediate family.
We support and honor all men and women who have served in the armed forces of the United States of America. Our loyalty to our nation’s veterans is the foundation of DownRange Excursions.
DownRange Excursions believes that immediate family is one of the main fundamentals of what keeps our veterans moving on in life. Our outdoor activities strengthen family bonds by encouraging shared experiences that will provide families and veterans a lifetime of mental and physical serenity, along with everlasting memories.
Meet the Team
Board of Directors:
Nicole Shumate JD
Executive Director, Paws & Effect
Ms. Shumate is the co-founder and executive director of nonprofit Paws & Effect, an Iowa-based service dog organization. Having earned an undergraduate degree in psychology with an emphasis on outdoor leadership studies, Ms. Shumate values the improved social interactions that service dog placements foster. Ms. Shumate brings her unique experiences as a female bomb detection dog handler with a Special Forces unit in Afghanistan to this effort. Ms. Shumate was recognized by the Des Moines Business Record as a 2012 Forty Under 40 honoree. Most importantly, Ms. Shumate is an avid hiker, backpacker and volkssporter, enjoying adventures worldwide.
Ms. Shumate’s mission and objectives with Paws & Effect fall in line with the healthy therapeutic alternatives presented by Downrange Excursions. She is proud to be an acting board member for their organization.
Disabled Veterans Outreach Program Specialist, IowaWORKS
St Ambrose University
2012 Bachelor of Arts in Sociology
2013 Post-Secondary Education Graduate Certificate in Disability Services.
Scott Community College
2008 Associates of Arts
Department of the Army
2011 Counselor Certification Course, Special Emphasis Program Manager Course, Disability Program Manager Course, Equal Employment Opportunity Specialist Course.
James is a disabled veteran who has worked to provide services for other veterans and their families in the Quad City area for over 17 years. In his current position as a Disabled Veterans Outreach Program Specialist, he works with veterans with a significant barrier to employment. He was in the past the Family Assistance Specialist with the Iowa National Guard, James was responsible for providing veterans and their family members with assistance in locating resources to assist them during times of deployment. He was instrumental in providing information through the creation of a web page dedicated to area resources for veterans and their families. James experience also includes working as the Equal Opportunity Specialist for the Rock Island Arsenal and as a Job and Benefits Developer for a Veterans Outreach Program in Illinois. James is also part of the QC Veterans Outreach Center in Davenport, IA which provides food, clothing and resources for veterans in the community.