When American veterans return home from overseas deployments, there’s often a degree of physical and emotional rehabilitation that must take place. Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing has found a unique and enjoyable way to meet the needs of those who have bravely served our country.
The organization provides a free fly-fishing experience to an ever-expanding number of disabled active duty military and disabled veterans.
The program, which recently received a $2,500 grant from the Sundt Foundation, helps veterans:
• overcome physical limitations;
• improve dexterity and fine motor skills;
• tackle depth-perception issues;
• gain better focus and concentration;
• develop friendships;
• build camaraderie with other vets who have faced similar challenges;
• gain confidence;
• become more comfortable around larger groups of people.
Project Healing Waters originated in 2005, serving wounded service members returning from combat in Afghanistan and Iraq to Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The organization has since expanded nationwide, establishing its highly successful program in Department of Defense hospitals, Warrior Transition units and Veterans Affairs Medical Centers and Clinics.
There are more than 200 Project Healing Waters programs across the United States.
“We focus our resources wherever the local need is greatest and expand our partner base in the process,” said Phoenix Project Lead Norm Johnson. “We have been recognized as an innovative leader and model in the field of therapeutic outdoor recreation for the disabled through our successful application of the sport of fly fishing, fly-tying and rod building as rehabilitation tools.”
The program in Phoenix started in April 2013 with seven veterans and 11 volunteers. By 2016, it had grown to 68 veterans and 61 volunteers, with locations in Phoenix and Gilbert.
Thanks to the Sundt Foundation grant, Project Healing Waters this past November took 11 disabled veterans on a three-day fly-fishing experience in the lakes and streams of Arizona’s White Mountains. The gift covered the cost for the veterans’ transportation and food and lodging, plus five guides.
This is the first in a series of stories about non-profit organizations that were supported by the Sundt Foundation in 2016. The articles will appear on our blog on Tuesdays through May 23.