Project Healing Waters
Fort George Meade
Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc. (PHWFF) is dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military service personnel and disabled veterans through fly fishing and associated activities including education and outings.
- The first program started at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. in 2005. The official name was established in the fall of 2006, and the organization was incorporated in the State of Maryland in 2007.
- PHWFF currently has 219 operational programs serving disabled veterans and disabled military service personnel from 49 states and Germany. Each program is managed at the local level by volunteers who work with Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities, Department of Defense (DOD) military installations, Warrior Transition Units (WTU) and other institutions. PHWFF has 23 geographic regions throughout the United States and 1region in Europe. PHWFF also has affiliate programs in Canada and Australia .
- PHWFF is a volunteer-run organization governed by a Board of Trustees (BOT) and elected officers who create policy, provide operational and budget oversight, and are responsible for the strategic plan.The administrative and program functions are supported by ten full time and two part time employees. The volunteers at the regional and local levels work with the headquarters staff to coordinate plans and operations, administer programs, assist with fundraising and manage special projects. PHWFF is not a membership organization with subordinates. We refer to the local affiliates as programs, not chapters or clubs.
The FT Meade Program is sponsored by PPTU. Our First Meeting was in September of 2009 and was attended by 4 participants of the Warrior Transition Unit (WTU). The WTU was our first official on base sponsor which at that time had over 120 wounded warriors. The WTU is a company of warriors who are transitioning out of the service for medical reasons. Each Ft or base had its own WTU. When the conflicts scaled down and the pull out of Iraq, the WTU at Ft Meade was branched with Ft Belvoir.
With the moving of the WTU, the Soldiers and Family Assistance Center (SFAC) took over as our on base Sponsor. We had a place to meet during the winter months. In the summer we would meet at Picnic Pavilion #3 on Lake Burba, have cook outs and fish. We had a very big "family" atmosphere. Under the guidance of Dr. Lewis we would get new participants almost monthly. During our time with the SFAC, they gave us awards for helping over 250 wounded active military and Vets. We had 3 or 4 years of being sponsored by the SFAC but again Budget cuts took place and the SFAC and our on-site Doctor moved to a new location and has since retired.
For the past 4 years we have been without an on base sponsor and have to rely on current participants to recruit new participants. They do this by way of dropping off handouts to Veteran services organizations like the VA clinics. I personally do shows at The Bass Pro and other fishing shows in the area looking for our Veterans who may be interested in learning Fly Fishing. It's a daunting task to keep it running smoothly and find new participants.
This current year of 2018 we have had so many new participants with now over 22 on our active Roster. We still to date donate over 1000 man hours yearly to this program and PPCTU still donates generously.
Photos From Various 2018 PHW Activities.
A PHW Rod Building Class
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.
Project Healing Waters
A Day on the Bay Fly Fishing Event
On October 9, 2010 a group of Wounded Warriors from Walter Reed and Fort Meade joined a group of 9 volunteer Professional Chesapeake Bay fly fishing guides for a day of fishing for Striped Bass (Rock Fish as they are known on the Bay). The event was hosted by the Potomac-Patuxent Chapter of Trout Unlimited and supported by volunteers from the Chapter.
Thanks to the generous contribution of their facility, Castle Harbor Marina on beautiful Kent Island Maryland was the focal point for the event, which began at 0800 on a magnificent Saturday morning.
The Professional Guides led by Richie Gaines, Gary Neitzy, Richard Borneman, Chris Dollar, Ed Liccione, Tom Parker, and Mark Eustis were joined by several other boats to put the Warriors on fish, and provide instruction on fly fishing skills and technique.
We were fortunate that the winds were light, the sun was warm, and the Captains delivered their promise of putting the soldiers on fish! The nine 21’-24’ center console boats were perfect platforms for following the birds (a sure sign of fish) and casting into schools of Rock, providing plenty of strikes and excitement.
At the end of the day all of the participants joined up back at the Marina Pavilion to swap fish tales and enjoy a cookout feast coordinated by Chapter member John Dyer.
All in all it was a great Day on the Bay!
We hope to expand the event and adjust the date to ensure we get the + 30” stripers, and growing the event into an annual fundraiser for Project healing Waters.
A special thanks is owed to David Folkerts, Craig Peterson and Robert Wehland of PHW for helping coordinate the attendees, and to John Dyer, for his work in coordinating all the shore side activities.
Our First PHW Outing
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.
Our First PHW Class
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.