Helping Veterans Heal by Getting Them Outdoors
When this group saw how their fly fishing program helped wounded veterans build confidence, they knew they had to keep it going. Find out how you can help with their mission!
Nature can be a healer for many people, including veterans who suffer from PTSD and other war-related injuries. This was the inspiration for Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF), a national non-profit dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled, active military personnel and veterans.
PHWFF began in 2005 when volunteers started providing rehabilitation services to wounded military members at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Bethesda, MD. Since then, PHWFF has been developing programs and recruiting volunteers all over the country to provide fly fishing lessons to veterans and active military members. The lessons cater to all experience levels and cover such skills as fly casting, fly tying and rod building. In addition to the lessons, PHWFF also encourages members to participate in planned fishing trips and ongoing classes for more in-depth training.
PHWFF Participants practice their fly fishing skills.
The program has brought much-needed comfort and relief to veterans who have been suffering from PTSD, or have been diagnosed with other war-related illnesses and medical conditions.
"I was diagnosed with PTSD after my third tour in Iraq. Fly fishing is a form of mindfulness for me," says one veteran. "Just being out in the creek, where you don't have to worry about anything other than a fish biting your fly, or just trying to trick a fish with a pea-sized brain: it's very therapeutic."
The programs also offer opportunities for camaraderie and community-building, with disabled veterans from many different locations and all walks of life taking part in the outdoor classes and trips.
"I'm with like-minded people, veterans, who understand me and have been through what I've been through," says veteran, Joseph Drake.
"If it wasn't for Project Healing Waters, I would be sitting in my depression instead of standing in the middle of a river."
There are many ways to help PHWFF continue and spread their mission.
You can make a donation through Network for Good or send a check to:
Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc.
PO Box 695
LaPlata, MD 20646
To volunteer for PHWFF, you can reach out via their Volunteer page.
To sponsor a trip, contribute fishing equipment or host a fundraiser, you can reach out via their More Ways to Give page.
(Source: images Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing Facebook page )