Project Healing Waters is healing soldiers with the power of fly fishing.
Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF) is a nonprofit program designed to pair wounded military personnel with guides across the country to teach them to fly fish. They are taken to local rivers, lakes, and streams to reconnect with nature and help their healing process.
All the fishing equipment and costs of the trips are completely free for the soldiers. Classes on rod building, fly tying, and more are also offered to allow vets a new, relaxing hobby.
PHWFF gives soldiers, especially those with PTSD, the opportunity to learn new skills in a peaceful environment. Fly fishing is a very repetitive activity that requires focus. This gives soldiers a good starting foundation to apply that same focus to other parts of their lives to help integrate them back to a normal life.
Starting in 2005 they started helping service members at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. returning from Iraq and Afghanistan until it closed in 2011. Since then they have expanded with the help of volunteers and other programs such as the Wounded Warrior’s Project to expand nation wide.
The volunteers are the main driving force behind the program. In 2013, over 130,000 hours were given by more than 2,400 volunteers, allowing 5,400 soldiers to participate in activities. This includes partners with various other clubs like Trout Unlimited, and independent parties.
There are currently 173 active programs in 49 states, as well as affiliate programs in Puerto Rico, Australia, and Canada. Candidates are chosen from different DOD and VA facilities to use the program.
The program hosts a number of events to help raise money to keep the program running, such as the 2 Fly Tournament. This year’s will be the ninth one and is between April 25-26. It includes dinner and a silent auction before kicking off a very large fly fishing tournament with all proceeds funding the program.
Programs like these are important for veterans of war young and old. They give them a way to get back to their old selves. While it may not cure them, it definitely gives them a better way to cope than sitting in a basement. It also shows the good and healing power the outdoors can have upon everyone.
If you would like more information about the program, how to volunteer, or make a donation visit their website at: www.projecthealingwaters.org.