Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc. is dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active duty military personnel and veterans through fly fishing and fly tying education and outings.
The organization was founded in 2005 by a corps of dedicated local volunteers, using the nationally renowned Casting for Recovery program concept. The activities include lessons in basic and advanced fly fishing and fly tying techniques and frequent fly fishing trips for participants.
Since its inception, the Project has been helping disabled active duty personnel and veterans at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center to overcome the obstacles associated with their military service related injuries. The relearning of the fine motor skills required in fly fishing and fly tying has proven to be particularly effective in the overall rehabilitation of the disabled.
In its efforts, Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc. has benefited from the collaboration and assistance of the Federation of Fly Fishers, the recognized leader in fly fishing oriented strategies for conservation and education, and Trout Unlimited, the foremost organization working for the conservation of trout and salmon fisheries.
Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc. is a volunteer, non-profit organization, initiated by members of Trout Unlimited and the Federation of Fly Fishers, that serves military personnel who have come home wounded or injured to aid their physical and emotional recovery by introducing or rebuilding the skills of fly fishing and fly tying and by using and enjoying these skills on fishing outings and as lifelong recreation.
While initially focusing on military personnel in the Washington, DC area, the Project has expanded and is offering its services to active military personnel and veterans in military and Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals across the nation.
All services and activities of Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc. are provided to the participants at no cost. Fly fishing and tying equipment and materials are provided to the participants, including equipment that accommodates their special needs.
Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc. (PHW) is financed by monetary contributions and donations of equipment and materials. These contributions and donations may be tax deductible through the 50l(c)(3) tax status of PHW. Funds for fishing trip expenses are provided by grants from foundations.
PHW, while presently operating in the Washington, D.C. area, is incorporated in the state of Maryland and has secured its own 50l(c)(3) tax status. PHW works with groups in other areas of the nation that are teaching fly fishing and tying in the Department of Veterans Affairs and military regional medical centers.
The Project works in two ways; both augment the work of the therapeutic services of the hospital. The fly tying program concentrates on teaching those with upper limb and vision injuries to use their hands and eyes to do the small tasks involved making fishing flies. While the therapeutic staff does wonderful work in helping the wounded and injured relearn the skills needed in normal living, they do not have the staff or the time to concentrate on those small tasks. Fly tying gives the patient an opportunity to relearn the fine motor skills he or she lost when wounded or injured. The patient can see a use for the flies tied and has the incentive to continue tying and developing the skills. With the relearning of the fine motor skills, often there is a considerable improvement in the emotional state of the patient.
The fly fishing program works with the wounded and injured patients to learn or relearn fly fishing regardless of their injuries. The motions of fly fishing help develop damaged muscles and improve balance and mobility. The fishing trips help the patients relax in a different environment from the hospital while he or she uses those skills and movements to catch fish. Again, the patient's emotional state is improved by going fly fishing.
While Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc. emphasizes the skills of fly fishing and fly tying to help the patients regain the use of their damaged bodies, perhaps the greatest benefit is in their realization that a more normal life is possible. Fly fishing for all fish in all waters can be a lifelong re-creation, both physically and emotionally.