UPDATE ON RECENT ACTIVITY
What is the nature of the program?
Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc. is dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military service personnel and veterans through fly fishing and fly tying education and outings. Our chapter hosts a year round series of events providing a social structure for active service personnel, veterans and chapter volunteers to build relationships and share a common passion. This forum provides a relaxed environment to discuss issues they are facing and for chapter volunteers to act as gatekeepers and refer participants to the many support organizations available to them through the Soldiers and Family Assistance Center (SFAC). The Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing program at Ft. Meade developed locally from an initial effort at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in 2005 and is now one of 180 programs in 50 states.
How many wounded warriors on average?
Over the past 5 years, more than 75 warriors plus their dependents have been touched by these activities at Ft. Meade. In the 2015 rod building activity, we have ten fly rods to be built.
How often? When?
The program with the Warrior Transition Unit at Ft. Meade is scheduled for each Thursday evening from 1830 - 2100 in the winter months in the Soldier and Family Assistance Center (SFAC) conference room. In warmer weather, we meet nearby the SFAC in picnic pavilion #3 on Lake Burba from 1730 - 2000.
Mostly active duty Army but the program serves all disabled military personnel and veterans including Army Reservists and National Guard.
How long in transition unit?
4 months – 36 months depending on medical condition. Some have returned to their units.
How far from home?
Warriors are from all over the country with a handful close to home.
What support can the group the Chapter is speaking to provide: number of volunteers, skills equipment, cash or in-kind donations?
The Chapter provides equipment and materials for fly tying, rod building and fishing. Primarily for disabled warriors, family members of the warriors are also able to participate, at no cost to them. Some limited, out-of-state travel for fishing on semi-private water has been possible. The Facebook site at Project Healing Waters At Ft Meade will provide some recent insight into these activities. Fly tying, rod building, fly casting, fly fishing, and teaching skills are desired for the volunteers. Equipment, supplies, and financial support are always welcome. PPTU Chapter has typically provided over 1000 hours of volunteer assistance annually and a generous budget.
In September of 2009, volunteers from the Potomac Patuxent Chapter of Trout Unlimited (PPCTU), in conjunction with the Fort George Meade Warrior Transition Unit (WTU), held their first meeting of Project Healing Waters (PHW).
Our first class was attended by four wounded warriors and quickly expanded to more. Classes started with volunteers Jim Greco, Carl Smolka, Dennis Covert, me, and now include Harry Steiner, who joined us in January, with Rodger Carlson and Patty Nicholson joining us in May. Note: Dave Wittman also volunteered to help with PHW, however, he was taken from us just before the first meeting.
Every Thursday evening, from 7:00 PM until 9:00 PM, PPCTU volunteers meet with the wounded warriors to share their knowledge of fly tying, casting, knot tying, and trout fishing.
In the spring of 2010, PPCTU sponsored a PHW outing for our warriors to Burba Lake at Fort Meade. Our wounded warriors enjoyed catching bluegills and bass on flies they had tied. Laughs and shouts of encouragement were heard all around the lake. After fishing, the warriors and volunteers enjoyed a shore lunch of grilled burgers and hot dogs.
In October 2010, PPCTU hosted a PHW Chesapeake Bay Fly Fishing outing for our warriors thanks to the efforts of Roger Carlsen and John Dyer.
In the winter of 2012, PPCTU hosted a PHW Rod Building Class at Fort Meade. Our wounded warriors enjoyed learning the skills associated with building their own fly rods. Some photos from the class are shown below.
I believe I can speak for all the volunteers when I say this program has been a very rewarding experience. I cannot remember ever feeling so good about giving a little time, and what a great way for us to be able to thank those who have given so much for us. This is the least we can do to say thanks, and it is personally very rewarding.
Thanks to all of the warriors who serve our country.