Friday night I received an exciting call from my dear friend Judy, a friend who began an outstanding organization with her husband Dave.
That phone call shared some great news – the existing board of directors voted me in as their newest board member for Wounded Warrior Anglers. Wow, I am beyond proud and honored to be a part of this wonderful organization that does tremendous things for our soldiers.
The concept of the organization formed after Dave was injured in 2008 while he was in the Marines. The serenity of fishing, along with his wife Judy, helped him get through the difficult times through his injury and healing process.
Dave has told me since day one, why not bring other wounded warriors with him out fishing to share the sense of relaxation and escape from every and any stressors that go hand-in-hand with an injury? This wonderful concept and dedication to help others turned into an organization, a 501c3 organization, that is now a year old.
Over the past year I have had the pleasure of meeting many men and women who have served in the military because of this organization. Many who have touched me in ways that I will never be able to fully explain – many of which left tears in my eyes.
One of those individuals is Travis Downes, a man who served in the Army from 2000 to 2006. He was stationed at Fort Stewart in Georgia. While serving he had two combat deployments, both on the front line for a year at a time.
I was the editor of the Pine Island Eagle in Southwest Florida the first time I met Travis, while working on an article about a business where he is employed. Our encounters became more frequent after that, especially when I became involved in the organization. Our conversations also become more fluent as our friendship grew. Now, with the convenience of Facebook, we stay in touch throughout the week.
Wounded Warrior Anglers hosts retreats a few times a year to treat our wounded warriors and their caregivers to a day full of relaxation. As the warriors are taken out on the boat for a day of fishing, their caregivers spend a day at the spa for a day full of pampering.
Travis said he really enjoys the retreats because it gives him the opportunity to meet other warriors, some of which he still stays in contact with to this day. The retreat also gives him the opportunity to relax which is beneficial because of some of the injuries he is faced with on a daily basis – PTSD, hearing impairment and mild traumatic brain injury.
I have personally seen the state of relaxation these soldiers are in once they return to the docks at the Olde Fish House Marina in Matlacha, Florida. It’s almost like all of their daily stresses, pains and worries disappear, which is an amazing site to see.
I am beyond thrilled to be a part of Wounded Warrior Anglers for many of the reasons I have stated above. What better way to give back to those who have put their lives on the line to make sure we stay safe then to be personally involved as a board of director for an organization who serves them?