Today was a busy day with a lot of driving. I started the day heading to an accident on one end of our coverage area. Then rushed back to the office to meet a reporter and head to another edge of our coverage area for a feature story. We were arriving as the event was coming to a close which limited my time to create as many photos as I would have liked to.
The event was called Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing and is a several day event for veterans to fly fish. For many of the the men it’s part of the healing process and a relaxing time with older veterans and volunteers who show them the ropes to fly fishing.
As I walked down the creek and started to photograph the last guy fishing his line caught and he started to reel in a fish. The brown trout tried to wriggle away but had to be pulled in so they could cut the fly and release him back to the water. The Army veteran, “Nicko,” handed his phone to someone to take a photo as he proudly held up the fish.
As I started to chat with Nicko it sunk in how important this event, and ones simliar to it are for our soldiers. Nicko, who is a sergeant that has a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart after serving two tours in Iraq before being injured, told me that this event last year changed his life. He attempted suicide and was suffering PTSD when he attended the event. He said he could barely talk to the guys he was with without crying, so he fell silent. Surrounded by other vets and older guys who had battled similar things he was able to open up and start the healing process. Fishing helped him to learn how to focus again and see the positive things in life. He re-enlisted in college and is doing well and plans to apply to law school. Nicko fishes on a regular basis and now he helps with many of the Healing Water events, in addition to the Wounded Warrior program and other programs to share his story and help others to readjust to civilian life.
Though I didn’t create the most stand out images, covering this event put a positive twist on my day and made me happy that I was able to share one person’s story. Stories like these are why I love my job with the opportunity to talk with so many people and pass along how so many events change lives for the better.