The Story Behind Hydro Handle and its Founder, Tigra Soleil
Tigra Soleil is a role model and incredible example of overcoming adversity. She has persevered through struggles and challenges that most of us will never face.
Tigra grew up in Texas. As a poor kid being raised by a single mother, her childhood circumstances really pushed her to get out and see the world.
As a young adult, she wanted to go into the military because she had obtained her pilot’s license and had always wanted to fly for the military. She was selected to go into the Air Force Academy through a congressional nomination, but ended up being unable to take her original appointment after becoming ill and being hospitalized long term.
She ended up going into the Active Duty Air Force in 2007 and was assigned a job in weapon systems maintenance for F-15’s. Her plan was to take an alternative route from there and begin flight school. Unfortunately that never happened.
After becoming the vicim of an MST (Military Sexual Trauma) experience, she developed severe PTSD. Due to those psychological stressors, Tigra faced extreme difficulty in moving forward and past that experience.
After being granted a medical discharge from the military, Tigra faced additional challenges as she began transitioning back into the civilian sector. This was a difficult period of change. Prior to gaining an understanding of exactly what her PTSD entailed, it was confusing and challenging for her to understand the various triggers and responses she experienced in daily life.
Tigra moved to Colorado and continued to face difficulty integrating back into civilian life. Not knowing a single person in her new area, she had never felt more alone. She dealt with everything from suicidal thoughts to major depression.
Then one day, her neighbor knocked on her door and invited her to go rafting.
Tigra quickly fell in love with rafting. She enrolled in a white water rafting school and completed her schooling to become a professional river guide. She is now in her 13th year of being an experienced professional white water river guide.
While white water rafting is in itself therapeutic, Tigra has pursued many different therapeutic modalities in her healing process. They’ve really helped her find a sense of peace in her life. She spends half her year in California and Nevada as a river guide and the other half of the year in Costa Rica with clients that want to do specialized trips in the jungle.
Starting her company, Hydro Handle, became a big part of her healing process as well. The motivation to provide for herself and to give back to veteran and environmental support programs has given her new found purpose and meaning.
Dedicating 90% of her business proceeds toward these programs also feeds Tigra’s fire for service. She has a huge place in her heart for veterans and especially those who have experienced PTSD. She feels compelled to share with other veterans the modalities that worked for her. Her hope is that she can inspire and encourage other veterans to turn to positive outlets in getting help for the trauma they may have experienced.
Warrior Rising empowers U.S. military veterans and their immediate family members to by providing them opportunities to create sustainable businesses, perpetuate the hiring of fellow American veterans and earn their future.
Friends of the River
Friends of the River protects and restores California rivers by influencing public policy and inspiring citizen action. We are thrilled to support this great effort to save these rivers.