Honoring Our Veterans: Healing Waters and Fly Fishing

Nov 07, 2018 at 07:00 am by Paulette Jackson

Project Healing Waters

Love Like Water.

Like water, be gentle and strong.
Be gentle enough to follow the natural paths of the earth,
and strong enough to rise up and reshape the world.
~Brenda Peterson

Their names are Marilyn and Bruce Rogan, and for the past seven years they have been locally affiliated with the Healing Waters Fly Fishing Project, an organization dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of veterans.

It all started with a medical visit to the VA, and being given a brochure about Healing Waters Fly Fishing Project. After reading the brochure, they both signed up to volunteer.

Today the two are Tennessee Valley Deputy Regional Coordinators for the Project as well as Murfreesboro Program Leads.

Originally, the organization was founded in 2005 by Ed Nicholson, a retired Navy Officer. After his own stay at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where he was given a close look at the wounded returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, he felt compelled to help.

As a sportsman with a passion for fly fishing, Ed decided to offer his skill to recovering and injured service members, for the purpose of helping veterans to heal and to build relationships with others.

The offer was well received from the beginning, blossoming over the past ten years into a project now offering over 200 programs and serving all 50 states plus our military in Germany – all of which are free of charge to the veterans, thanks to the generous support of the many sponsors and donors.

From local classes offering beginning fly fishing, fly tying, rod building and fly casting to National Contests, Healing Waters Project has restored hope for veterans and their families, to be able to experience recovery through connection with nature as well as other veterans.

In the United States today, there are approximately 18.5 million veterans including; those 65 and older, Vietnam veterans, and Gulf War veterans from 1990 to the present, WWII veterans, Korean War veterans, and veterans who served in peace time only.

It is estimated that 20-30 percent of this population has PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as indicated by the following symptoms:

  • Intrusion
  • Avoidance
  • Negative cognition
  • Mood arousal and aggression

It is also estimated that about half of those with PTSD symptoms never seek help. Although help is available through the VA and other mental health services, the reasons offered by veterans for not seeking help is, lack of available appointments and fear of stigma, according to a VA audit.

Healing Waters Fly Fishing offers an additional resource for both male and female veterans. When attending one of the classes, or an event, veterans are always paired with another veteran – someone with a little more experience who can help with getting comfortable and can become a new friend.

In my conversation with Marilyn, I asked if she had a particular story of seeing a veteran’s life be helped through attending Healing Waters Fly Fishing Project.

She told the story of a veteran named “Charlie” who had been trying to find out “what the problem was” for ten years prior to meeting Marilyn and Bruce.

“Charlie” was so angry, his marriage was about to come apart. His wife was ready to leave him. He began coming to classes where he learned fly tying and fly casting. It wasn’t long before he started going to the fishing outings. In those outings, he discovered he really enjoyed getting away to the quiet and peaceful surroundings with others. And after a while, he found it changed his life.

There is something magical about being in the middle of a stream with a fishing rod or pole, hoping to catch a fish. In this environment, one engages as both observer and participant in the natural world – watching and being watched, knowing that in order to catch a fish, every move must be calculated, intuitively and precisely. And perhaps it is this focus, this intentional way of being in the natural world, where we can begin to realize, that being in this moment, while we are not “changing the world”, we are reshaping our world. And that is what it’s all about.

You can find out more about Healing Waters Fly Fishing Project, by contacting contact Marilyn and Bruce Rogan at marilyn.rogan@projecthealingwaters.org or 615-207-6765.

For the Support of Your Life
For the Many Sides of Life
Paulette Jackson, LPC-MHSP 


Photo credit: midislandcastaways.com

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