Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing is a non-profit organization that provides fly fishing and fly tying instruction and outings to veterans and active military personnel who have sustained physical or emotional injuries. The organization has over 200 locations nationwide, including one in Salem, Virginia.
On the first Tuesday of every month, veterans gather at the DAV in Salem to learn about fly fishing. The classes are taught by volunteers, many of whom are also veterans. The veterans learn how to tie flies, build fly rods, and cast a fly. They also go on fishing trips together.
Jim Newman, a U.S. Air Force veteran who served during the Cold War, says that fly fishing has helped him to heal from his physical and emotional injuries. “This has done more for me than anything in the past 40 years,” he says. “Everyone in this group is my brother and sister. I’ve felt welcome since day one. These guys have changed my life.”
Brendan Wells, a Marine veteran who served in Afghanistan, says that fly fishing has helped him to cope with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). “I didn’t come home whole mentally,” he says. “But fly fishing has helped me to relax and focus. It’s a great way to get away from the stress of everyday life.”
Lee Eames, a retired pastor who is a volunteer at Project Healing Waters, says that the organization is “making a difference in the lives of veterans.” He says that fly fishing is a “meaningful way to work against PTSD.”
If you are a veteran or active military personnel who is interested in learning more about Project Healing Waters, you can visit their website at www.projecthealingwaters.org.