Healing our veterans through fishing has never been more accessible.
Often we fish for the thrill; other times it's to fill a competitive need within us, and sometimes it's simply to ease an empty stomach. For our wounded veterans, however, fishing can be so much more than the reasons you and I fish every day.
A myriad of fishing programs are available to veterans, free of charge, that focus on building positive social interactions and restoration of the family bond through interaction with loved ones. Additionally, this therapeutic outlet advocates positive self-growth and confidence that many have lost due to disabilities resulting from combat.
These not-for-profit programs offer an adaptive recreational experience for psychologically and physically disabled veterans. Soldiers suffering from PTSD are especially benefitted by these activities, as traumatic events damage the psyche as well as the ability to have healthy interactions and attachments with family, friends, and the community upon return from combat.
Fishing provides emotional, psychological, and physical rehabilitation for not only soldiers, but their families as well.
There are several local and national groups that take part in this exceptional outreach effort for our veterans, Heroes on the Water (HOW) being one of the most popular. HOW gives soldiers an opportunity to take a break from the stresses of life as they try to reenter society and gives them relief from the agonizing pain most suffer from the rehabilitation process.
Another outstanding group is the Take a Warrior Fishing program. This foundation, through the use of kayaks and fishing excursions, specializes in rekindling familial ties and lines of communication that are often difficult following combat-induced psychological and physical trauma. All fishing equipment, including the kayaks, is adapted specifically for those with special needs.
An additional benefit kayaking has for the wounded veteran is that the activity is healing in so many ways, from somatic therapy as they paddle and fish, to occupational therapy as soldiers develop and learn a skill to last a lifetime, to psychological therapy, relaxing in the midst of nature without distractions or stressful expectations.
Yet another amazing foundation supporting our veterans through fishing is the Project Healing Waters, which also provides fishing free of charge for veterans and their families. Finally, there's the Wounded Veterans Fishing program, whose main objective is providing alternative therapy for soldiers suffering from PSTD, TBI, and other physical issues.
There are a myriad of similar programs all over the country, each specializing in giving veterans a long-term opportunity to enjoy a stress-free environment, away from the hospital and rehab center, out on the water where they can be one with nature, increasing morale and confidence, restoring the family structure, and providing soldiers with tools to return to being productive members of society.