Project Healing Waters brings fly fishing to disabled Veterans

VA’s deputy secretary to speak at group’s national volunteer event


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VA is partnering with community organizers across the country to improve access to care and enhance the Veteran experience. One of those partnerships is with Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing.

More than 150 VA medical centers, along with military hospitals, warrior transition units and other facilities, refer patients to the fly fishing group for outdoor excursions and recreation therapy. Last year they provided fly fishing excursions for 7,400 disabled Veterans and wounded service members.

This week, Project Healing Waters is holding a “national rendezvous” in Orlando, Florida, to bring together up to 175 program leaders and regional coordinators. They will share best practices and standardize procedures for how the organization provides therapeutic recreational services. Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson and Voluntary Service Director Sabrina Clark are among VA leaders scheduled to address the group.

VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson, VA Voluntary Service Director Sabrina Clark, Ellen Killough, CEO of PHWFF and PHWFF founder and President Ed Nicholson, and PHWFF Vice Chairman Bob Fitch at the National Program Rendezvous March 15.

VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson, VA Voluntary Service Director Sabrina Clark, Ellen Killough, CEO of PHWFF and PHWFF founder and President Ed Nicholson, and PHWFF Vice Chairman Bob Fitch at the National Program Rendezvous March 15.

The national rendezvous is being funded by a $298,200 grant through VA’s adaptive sport grant program, under the Office of Rehabilitation and Prosthetic Service. The grant is one of 86 awarded last year through the program, and one of the few devoted to training adaptive sport practitioners. Grants can be used for programs that promote physical activity, games, recreation, training and competition, including training and technical assistance to program administrators.

Recently, VA announced the availability of up to $8 million in FY16 funding for a new round of adaptive sport grants. The application period runs through April 28, 2016. Visit the Adaptive Sports website for information on applying for a grant, or look up funding opportunity number VA ASG-2017-01 at www.grants.gov. Many VA medical facilities – including the hospitals in Chicago, Milwaukee, Syracuse, Salt Lake City, Reno, Manchester (NH) and others – are partnering with city parks and recreation departments, universities,and other community adaptive sport providers to increase sport and recreation opportunities for disabled Veterans.

About Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing

Retired Navy Captain Ed Nicholson founded the organization in 2005 to help wounded Servicemembers recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. An avid outdoorsman, Nicholson knew the frePHW2sh air and change of scenery would be a welcome relief for soldiers cooped up in a hospital. As his trips progressed, he noticed there was something therapeutic about tying a fly, casting a rod, the sound of the rushing water.

And he was right. According to psychologist Dr. Tamar P. Martin-Franklin, the therapeutic benefits of fly fishing include improved fine motor skills, eye-hand coordination, balance, range of motion, concentration, self esteem and a more positive attitude toward the future.

From its origins as a simple day trip, Project Healing Waters now provides classes on fly fishing, casting, tying and rod building along with clinics for beginners as well as those with experience who are adapting their skills to their new abilities. The program is available to any disabled Veteran who wants to participate and is unique in that its volunteers are teaching classes on an on-going, long-term basis.

Today, the organization consists of 185 programs nationwide run by a network of 3500 dedicated volunteers. Project Healing Waters CEO Ellen Killough developed the concept of a national rendezvous to bring together all key personnel for the first time in the organization’s 10-year history. “It is through our volunteers that the Project Healing Waters program has flourished. Their selflessness and service to others has ensured the programs growth and success. It is critical that we give them the tools and training they need to continue providing consistent therapeutic experiences at each of our programs nationwide.”

To find a program near you, visit the Project Healing Waters website.

Author

Matt Bristol

Matt Bristol is the operations officer for VA's National Veterans Sports Programs and Special Events, which administers National adaptive sport and art therapy programs, monthly allowance payments for Veterans training for the United States Paralympics, and VA's $8 million adaptive sport grant program. He is a Gulf War veteran who served as a radio operator with the United States Army’s 82nd Airborne Division and holds a Master’s Degree in communication from The Johns Hopkins University – Krieger School of Arts and Sciences.

Comments

  1. Calvin anthony    

    I’m a 100% disable from. Service connected i have asbestosis, and chronic kindey dease stage 3. I need help nobody will help me here, it seems there just waiting for me to die . nobody is helping at all. I pút in for a scooter, i lose my breath real easy, i don’t need it when i go to rhe hospital just when i go to the store and go shopping for my wife, she has me, and four operations on her neck, it’s hard for her to get out but she trys, i have all the nessacery problems to get one but they turn me down four times, I’m a africañ American, sorry to say but i think the lady is prejudice my dr says i can have one at first but then saysi need to walk, i do walk, i just need one for the store, and to gey out of the house please. Help and my kidneys are bad, the next. Dr i see i belive he will put me on the kidney machine, i live in grand junction colorado. Do you know the congress man here for colorado. Im 61 years old, i read up on my pronlems, i put in for ebenefits, please help me if you can

  2. Calvin anthony    

    grand junction co. 81503

    1. Megan Moloney    

      Calvin, we’re not able to post your address as submitted per VA’s social media policy.

  3. Maura Farrell Miller    

    My Veterans love to fish and would enjoy this opportunity! What a great idea!

  4. Chaplain David W. Archer, M. Div.    

    I’ve been Working with The W*I*N*G*S PTSD support Program and the Care & Counsel for Combat Trauma 30 hour Certificated Course with the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) and Campus Crusade for Christ (CRU) in Killeen, at the Spiritual Fitness Center & Resiliency Campus on Fort Hood in Bell County, Texas.

    I am a Retired Chief Warrant Officer of 21.5 years and served as a Govt Contractor for about a Decade, I also spent two years with the Family Life Chaplains Training Center … In my first 10.5 yrs as an Airborne Paratrooper with 48 jumps (my 33rd jump as RTO) I became upside down out of a C-130 with my Sea-wee bag hanging over my face and my right leg caught in the Riser Strap Lines, that’s where my (L) Knee exploded on impact with an 8 ft ditch in Baumholder, Germany. Then as a SSG 11B30pC2H Squad Leader, While reacting to Indirect Fire with NBC masks on & Buttoned up, my TC & Driver rolled our 13 ton APC over 4 times down the side of a mountain in Hoenfelds, FRG … Later as a CW2 Aviator I flew UH-60 a/c models with EEES & 230 Lbs Fuel pods on its wings for a total of 198.7 hrs in Somalia, Africa. there, I, flew Chief of Staff GEN Colin Powell in Mogadishu, but was shot down 72 hrs later. I also dove out of a HUMMV that blew-up from an IED in Bosnia-Herzegovina and had just stepped inside the doors of the Dinning Facility in Baghdad, Iraq when it was hit with Mortar Rounds in 2007.

    I now live with a completely Dysfunctional Thyroid from Radiation exposure, two chips out of my lower Lumbar, a Shifted Sacrum, torn Rotator Cuff and Librium in my Left Shoulder, a reconstructed knee with the Meniscus from someone who donated their deceased body to science and 3 compacted Cervical Vertebrae in my neck from Wrestling All-Army (USAEUR Champion 1978). Presently I am residing near Fort Hood in Texas with my wife of 38 yrs.

    How can I get involved with the “Project Healing” and other benefits available to a VA designated 100% Permanently Wounded Warrior with 22 Service Related injuries ?

  5. Chaplain David W. Archer, M. Div.    

    I have a completely Dysfunctional Thyroid from Radiation exposure, two chips out of my lower Lumbar, a Shifted Sacrum, torn Rotator Cuff & Librium in my Left Shoulder, a reconstructed knee with the Meniscus from a deceased body donated to science and 3 compacted Cervical Vertebrae in my neck from Wrestling All-Army (USAEUR Champion 1978).

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