Solders Day returns to Camp Hale for Project Healing Waters fishing expedition
Project Healing Waters lives up to its name.
The volunteer organization takes combat veterans from any branch of service and any war — some severely injured — on fly fishing expeditions.
This year was the fifth annual Soldiers Day, hosted at Camp Hale by The America Cup Inc., Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing at Fort Carson and Nova Guides.
The Fort Carson group was joined by a dozen other service men and women from a program in Wyoming.
The 25 soldiers were joined by 25 volunteer guides from local fly shops and Denver area Trout Unlimited members for a day on the water.
They fished, they laughed and, like the name says, they healed a little.
“The one-on-one instruction and camaraderie is one of the best features of this event,” said John Knight, of The America Cup. “We want to give back just a little bit to these soldiers. It’s the least we can do.”
Lifetime fishing buddies
Healing Waters is for a lifetime. They travel together on Healing Waters trips, and sometimes they phone each other and go fishing.
“That’s the ultimate, something they can do for the rest of their lives,” Knight said.
The soldiers are taught how to fly fish, beginning with, rod, fly and tippet selection, to how to read water and find the trout.
“Going home and being able to gear up and fish with your kids or granddad is the goal, and to help these soldiers find peaceful moments on the water,” Knight said.
After the morning river session, the group had lunch at Nova Guides headquarters at Camp Hale and continued their afternoon fishing the ranch trout lake.
Soldiers refined their techniques, had fun and caught fish.
Project Healing Waters has scores of affiliates around the country dedicated to the rehabilitation of disabled active and veterans through fly fishing and other activities.
Fort Carson’s Healing Waters program does fishing trips.
In the winter, they do fly tying and rod building classes. The guys improve their small motor skills tying flies. They learn patience by building rods because it’s time consuming and demands close attention to detail. They learn a little about fishing, but mostly it’s Mother Nature who heals the veterans, Knight said.
Some of these anglers were deployed to the Middle East three or four times with just a short break in between. They could use a little time on the water.
Some of them have been soldiers since they were teenagers; it’s the only life they know.
The military is getting better, assigning some of them to Warrior Transition Battalions, helping them transition to civilian life.
At Camp Hale, the soldiers were supposed to be done when dinner at McAllister’s Grill closed the event, but they weren’t. Many wandered outside to Nova Guides’ private trout lake for a little more fishing, and healing.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
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