By Aaron Worley
CHARLOTTE – The horrors of war can physically and emotionally cripple those involved for decades. Some rely on painkillers, but others choose more therapeutic methods.
At Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, disabled veterans who may have never met one another before come together to share one common interest: the art of fishing.
Demonstrations were held of Healing Waters’ fishing sessions complete Sept. 29 at JHG Financial Advisors with booths of popular fishing shops and a silent auction to win handcrafted rods. Veterans also enjoyed pizza and refreshments.
Judson Gee, the host of the event and the Charlotte program lead, took the opportunity to thank the many people in attendance, as well as the sponsors who allowed people to bid on their merchandise.
More than just a hobby, fly fishing seeks to draw the concentration of veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to help channel some of their emotions. The skill requires patience and discipline.
Attendees of the program also learn additional valuable skills relating to the preparation and consumption of fish. For instance, engaging and practical lessons in how to fillet a flounder are offered to all.
For sufferers of PTSD like Calvin Norton, Healing Waters saves lives.
Norton served as an infantryman in the Vietnam War and was told he will probably experience flashbacks for the rest of his life.
“Seeing people maimed, being forced to declare people enemies and shooting at them on the battlefield … it really changes your perspective on life,” he said.
Norton’s dreams often turn him violent. Sometimes he kicks holes in the walls and punches the air because he is reliving moments in the war zone. His life’s goal has shifted to getting out of the house and trying to live a normal life.
Project Healing Waters has given him a chance to interact with others.
After spending some time in Project Healing Waters, Norton was given the opportunity to teach others, and he says it has helped him open his experience up to others.