U.S. Marine Corps
Born and raised in Oxnard, California, Brian Barber was determined to live up to his family's name. The Barbers were well-known for being a positive influence in their community, and Brian felt he should be no different.
As a child, he was inspired by his grandfather, who served as a U.S. Navy cook, and was awed by his collection of military awards and memorabilia. The two would visit the Naval base to watch the ships together, and Brian dreamed of following in his footsteps and continuing the family's legacy. However, it wasn't until his best friend decided to join the U.S. Marine Corps that Brian began to seriously consider a career in the military for himself.
After discussing it with his wife, Brian decided to enlist. As a radio operator, Brian's duties changed with his assignments. At Camp Pendleton in California, he was in charge of ensuring constant communication between his forward officer and the artillery units. In Miramar, he was responsible for all communications gear for his squadron and all the squadrons they supported. After 9/11, Brian's third deployment date was moved up and the time increased. During this time, he served in the Persian Gulf, where he was part of the air refueling team, providing fuel for helicopters in remote areas.
Unfortunately, Brian's time in the military came to an end after he was diagnosed with Failed Back Syndrome: a chronic condition marked by recurring symptoms after back surgery. After being honorably discharged, he knew he needed to focus on his own healing; but Brian remained steadfast in his determination to give back and help others. The restorative power of fishing immediately came to mind: another passion he shared with his grandfather.
This led Brian to start Mission FISH, which stands for Fishing, Interacting, Sharing and Healing. Established in 2015, the foundation gives participants the opportunity to develop a community and embrace the healing qualities of nature through group fishing trips. During these expeditions, veterans can connect with each other and share their experiences. "I want [other veterans] to know that they are never alone," Brian says.
Thanks to his hard work and dedication, Mission FISH has helped over 2,000 participants develop close relationships and coping strategies for everyday life. And Brian has done what he set out to do: carry on the Barber family legacy. Learn more about Mission FISH and how veterans can enjoy the comfort of nature on their website https://www.missionfishusa.org.
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