Many people use paddling sports as a way to come to peace with nature and themselves. It is an activity that offers relaxation and serenity away from the abuses of our everyday busy worlds.
Perhaps it has never been more evident than from the results of an organization’s efforts to help our returning military veterans re-adjust to life back home.
Heroes on the Water (HOW) is a national non-profit organization with the mission to help warriors relax, rehabilitate and reintegrate through kayak fishing and the outdoors. HOW has chapters throughout the country including here in North Carolina.
Essentially, HOW provides instruction and access for military personnel to the use of kayaking and paddling and fishing. By learning the skills of both kayaking and fishing, it provides a peaceful activity that offers the peace that our veterans and active service members need in order to readjust to normal everyday lives.
One person labeled the results from the Heroes on the Water program as ‘triple therapy.’ Rather than having to pursue occupational therapy, physical therapy and mental therapy, the HOW program offered occupational therapy by means of learning a lifetime activity and skill, physical therapy from the benefits of paddling and fishing, and mental therapy from relaxing in nature with no distractions or expectations of performance.
‘Give a man a fish; feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish; feed him forever.’ Never has this been more true, yet with even more added benefits.
Troy University conducted a study over an 18-month period on alternative forms of therapy for individuals who faced traumatic experiences. The study showed that after learning and participating in kayak angling, the soldiers were more inclined to get out and participate on a regular basis rather than stay solitary in an environment that allowed one’s mind to re-enact stressful scenarios.
Numerical results showed 56% less stress was experienced by the participants after participating in these outdoors activities.
Those that incurred sleep deprivation resulting in approximately two hours each night due to highly traumatic experiences showed restful sleep intervals increase to five hours or more with a 60% decrease in nightmares, night terrors and re-experiences.
The kayak angling community has long been known as a tight-knit community. The bonding aspect of kayak angling resulted in a 63% decrease in avoidance of family and comrades giving the participant healthy social interaction.
Heroes on the Water is not just a one-time event either. Between the paddling and fishing clinics, guided and semi-guided trips with both professional guides and non-professional kayak angling enthusiasts, and the ability to bond with fellow friends and comrades to participate in the sport together at any time, HOW allows a constant and lifetime ability to further re-associate with the world without the limitations that traumatic stress incurs.
Matthew Frazier leads the local foothills chapter in North Carolina and can be found on Facebook by searching Heroes on the Water-Foothills North Carolina Chapter.
Brett Hinson, founder and owner of Carolina Custom Rods is also running a raffle to help provide funding to the chapter by offering a custom made rod. The rod is a 6’8” cobalt blue Batson Eternity blank with a Batson Alps MVT smoke colored reel seat. It has Batson Alps micro guides in smoke color and a split cork grip with a black butt cap. Retail on the rod would exceed $500.00
You can email firstname.lastname@example.org for both raffle information, or information on how to participate or help. You can also find more information at HeroesOnTheWater.org.