This is a fantastic organization that I donate my time and effort to weekly in Memphis. There are MANY of these programs now all over the country, but the program I work with at the V.A. Hospital in Memphis was one of the first ten Project Healing Waters programs ever created.
In partnership with the hospital, myself and a handful of great volunteers teach our veterans in a 15 week course about fly fishing. We get them tying their own flies and they build their own rods in our class. Naturally, we take them fishing as well. We run three of these courses a year and have seen great successes due to our efforts. In fact, we have had many instances where we know this program has saved someone's life. I do not mean saved someones life in a figurative sense, but a literal one.
Many people use fly fishing as their “get away from it” button. It is an activity that is peaceful if you want it to be. I’ve often said that if I am allowed to stand in a river and not see another person for over an hour it does more for me personally than sitting in a room encased in stained glass windows. I can’t imagine what it would mean to me if I was battling something like P.T.S.D. Being able to “get away from it” is awesome, but it’s only one side of the coin. The fellowship created while learning about fly fishing in a nurturing environment is equally just as important to those having difficulty with social or physical issues due to their recent service.
I was never in the military, but I have always been extremely appreciative of the service of others to our country. This is a great way for me to give back to those that have made sacrifices and paid prices so that we can live in (AND FISH IN) this great country. If you would like to donate in any way to our program PLEASE let me know. We provide everything to the vets in our course free of charge to them, but we can always use help in doing this.
Currently I am serving as the Program Lead for the Memphis VAMC program as well as the Deputy Regional Coordinator for the Tennessee Valley Region. I will also guided in the 11th Annual 2-Fly Tournament @ Rose River Farm in Syria, Virginia at the end of April 2017. Plus we hosted a national group of PHWFF participants on the Little Red River in Sept of 2017.