Matthew Dahl
U.S. Army Veteran | Purple Heart Recipient


If you missed the Patagonia event on Thursday, November 19th, you missed some incredible testimonies from inner-city youth and military veterans. Mathew Dahl, a Soul River Inc veteran, was one of those brave people to get up in front of a standing-room only audience and bare his heart about how Soul River has positively impacted him. After merely twenty seconds, the wave of raw emotion choked Mathew, as well as the 125+ people up, unable to share exactly what he had planned to say. Later, he revealed his thoughts on Facebook, which we now share with you.

Last night was an amazing night with old and new friends. Chad Brown of Soul River/Soul River Inc. – Runs Wild held an amazing event at Patagonia in Portland. I was asked to share my experience with the crowd. I had everything ready to go in my head but once I got to the microphone and started to share my story the water works came. I think there was a little dust in the room or something…

Having the chance to work with Soul River has gave me a new outlook on life. Teaching the youth of today wilderness navigation, fly fishing, fly tying, river navigation, camping skills, and entomology has taught me more then I could have imagined. Fly Fishing has truly saved my life. I do not believe that I would be here if I never picked up a fly rod and stepped onto the river. Soul River has given me that purpose, meaning, and belonging that I have been searching for since being out of the Military.

This past week I was officially diagnosed with a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI), five years after the incident that almost took my life. In March of 2011, I was injured while on a dismounted patrol in Afghanistan from a IED. I have been struggling with PTSD and all of the other fun stuff that comes with it. Although I could never understand why I had memory loss, confusion, and other cognitive problems that came along with the severe TBI, until being diagnosed this past week that is. Day to day life for me is a struggle. Not knowing what symptoms will blindside me next, Not knowing what my mood will be like, not knowing if I will have to go back home to control my anxiety.

Being out on the river with Soul River in that moment completely changes me. I feel normal again. I can have conversations with people without having to look around me thinking that there is a threat. I can speak slower and more fluently. I am at ease. I have no troubling thoughts going through my head at that time. I need no medication to control any of those thoughts and feelings while on the river.

Teaching the kids and young adults makes me feel like I am making a difference again and that I have a purpose to show them how to take care of not only themselves in the wilderness but the environment as well, all while having a fun time. Soul River is something that helps not only the ones that volunteer or the kids, but the friends and family members of both the kids and volunteers.

Thank you to all of the other volunteers that have helped me along the way.

Chad, Thank you for creating this program and taking me under your wing and letting me help out. You are truly one of a kind.


Tuesday9:00AM - 3:00PM
Wednesday9:00AM - 3:00PM
Thursday9:00AM - 3:00PM

Contact us

keep in touch

Soul River Inc

1926 N Kilpatrick St,

Suite B,

Portland, OR 97217

Phone. 503-954-7625