Project Healing Waters

Project Healing Waters (PHW), Albuquerque Chapter
New Mexico Trout Sponsor

by Dave Patton
From the December 2019 Newsletter

Our program, completing its 10th year, is part of a nationwide organization with 220 individual programs. We support the physical and mental rehabilitation of disabled veterans being treated at the VA Medical Center in Albuquerque through regular, long term contact with the veterans on a weekly basis. Recapturing the camaraderie many veterans experienced in the military while participating in fly tying classes, casting, or fishing is a big part of our success.

We have over 50 registered veterans and 20 active volunteers and is one of the larger programs in the country. Many of participants have been with us over 5 years. We are a year round program that is free to veterans and meets in the Recreation Hall at the VA for fly tying, casting, and fly fishing educational sessions and a small group of veterans each year build their own fly rods. We fish from June through November on day trips to the Pecos River at Brush Ranch and the Pecos National Historical Park and multi-day trips to the San Juan River.

The benefits of fly fishing continue to be documented and are particularly beneficial to veterans with post traumatic stress, traumatic brain injuries. However, fly fishing is beneficial for recovery from physical wounds as well. As our readers know, most aspects of fly fishing are therapeutic because they require the individual to focus almost exclusively on the fly fishing task at hand whether it is tying a fly, building a rod, casting to a fish, wading and trying to not slip, watching a fly as it drifts peacefully, or play a fish to the net. Any individual, while focused in this way finds it is almost impossible to think about anything else. Fly tying and casting are calming activities that help restore brain function and improve fine motor skills and, most importantly, offer a sense of calm and peace as does all of our fly fishing program.

Contact information and details can be found on our PHW page.