Project Healing Waters is as a volunteer program and designed to work with returning veterans from conflicts both with and without injuries. It provides those veterans with the ability to focus and refocus onto a meaningful activity. The program is open to and invites all veterans to participate, regardless of their service. Its focus, however, is to work with wounded veterans, as a means for providing a level of participatory recreational therapy. The Department of Veterans Affairs of the greater Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area is a supporter of the program and encourages veterans from the Durham Veterans Medical Center, as well as other veterans centers to participate in the program.
The activities provided by Project Healing Waters are focused on fly fishing and fly tying activities, where the veteran is taught how to fly fish. They are also taught how to tie flies and provided with new focus skill to increase their awareness of available activities within the community. This can help support their mental well-being and to provide them with the ability to depressurize in a relaxing atmosphere.
Local veterans participate in project healing waters in both fishing and fly tying activities. One of the unique differences that the current Project Healing Waters program is establishing is that Triangle Fly Fishers are not requiring an immediate focus on fly fishing by the participants. Event participants are invited and encouraged to join the group to fish in whatever fashion they feel comfortable.
Appropriate equipment, expertise, and instruction are always available on-scene, Fly Fishermen provide activities and events to introduce veterans to fly fishing should they wish. It is the fly fishers’ philosophy that providing our veterans with a new area where they can center their attention away from the past and getting them out doing something different and fun is much more important than holding to very strict and narrow guidelines of only fly fishing. Fly fishing, the art of casting out over the waters repeatedly, is a most relaxing and soothing experience. Just watching the line dance across and just above the water as the fly seeks the attend of a hungry fish is a visual experience that brings our fishermen back time and time again.
A member of Triangle Fly Fishers, Dan Estrem, shared his thoughts with us. He said, “On a recent fishing day, hosted by the American Legion Chapel Hill Post 6, several of the veterans commented on how they felt this program truly helps them. One veteran was extremely excited when for the first time that individual was able to utilize a fly rod recently provided to him and caught several fish in the American Legion pond. The vet commented several times on the benefits of the program and how now that he understands how to fish he will continue to do it which he feels will help them in the future.” On other occasions many other vets have expressed the same sentiments. They felt that the ability to socialize with their comrades while engaging in a fishing activity is relaxing and highly beneficial to their mental well-being.
Words cannot adequately convey the camaraderie shared by the visiting vets and our own Vietnam-era veterans. We learn a lot from them and we are pleased to share our Post and facilities with these returning heroes. Enjoy this video of one of their days with us.