Many veterans of military combat suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The condition can be crippling.
Members of the Payson Flycasters Club are trying to help veterans affected by the condition.
The local group recently hosted more than a dozen veterans from the Valley for a day of trout fishing at the lakes in Green Valley Park.
The Flycasters host members from Project Healing Waters twice a year.
Fishing is therapeutic for many veterans suffering from PTSD, said Ric Hinkie, Payson Flycasters co-president.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that PTSD affects almost 31 percent of Vietnam veterans; as many as 10 percent of Gulf War veterans; 11 percent of veterans of the war in Afghanistan and 20 percent of Iraqi war veterans.
“There’s something mellow about the whole trout fishing experience,” he said. “PTSD is such a terrible thing and you never completely get over it; you just learn to deal with it. It takes a terrible toll emotionally, if not physically.”
Project Healing Waters is a national nonprofit.
“They meet twice a month and teach fly-fishing and fly-tying and ecology of the stream, anything to keep their minds positive,” Hinkie said. “I talked to the wife of one vet who told me, ‘Whenever he goes into a dark period, he gets out his fly-tying equipment like his hooks, threads and feathers and it focuses his mind.’” It’s a whole process and they really have to stay focused on it. She said it’s a real benefit for him to be part of Project Healing Waters.”
The Payson Flycasters invite all Project Healing Waters members up to Green Valley Park twice a year for these outings. Hinkie said the next outing will be in October or early November.
The goal is for the vets to catch fish. And the Payson Flycasters do their best to ensure they do.
“We fish here a couple of days before (the event) and find out what’s working best so we can give them some coaching help, we want them to have every chance of getting some fish,” Hinkie said.
Hinkie was one of eight volunteers.
“We served coffee and rolls and they fished from 8:30 until 11 a.m.,” Hinkie said. “Then we served chili and dessert and they could go back (to the Valley) or continue fishing.”
Hinkie said the event went well.
“I think we had 13 up here this time,” he said. “It’s a good time to come to the lakes because the trout are still in there.”