Veterans find peace with lakes and fishing - WSMV News 4

Veterans find peace with lakes and fishing

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Some veterans say fly fishing helps them deal with life off the battlefield. (WSMV) Some veterans say fly fishing helps them deal with life off the battlefield. (WSMV)

Post-traumatic stress and memories of war follow and haunt veterans for years.

Recapturing a sense of peace and calmness isn’t easy, so the Healing Waters Project brings veterans from Tennessee and countrywide to what they think is the calmest activity of all: fly fishing.

On the banks of the Cane Creek Lake near Cookeville, some of this country’s war fighting heroes from recent times and past are finally finding a way to forget.

“Fly fishing helps me, you know, calm my mind about the old days, so that’s why I do it now,” said Brian Vanwormer of Jamestown, TN.

For Vanwormer, the old days were Afghanistan and two deployments full of danger.

“Lots of activity going on with the Taliban,” he said. “I was an 0311 rifleman in the Marine Corps.”

Activity in the Marine’s language means security patrols and close range gunfire. Getting past that is hard, but fly fishing in a peaceful setting helps.

“My goal is to get as many vets fly fishing as possible. It’s helped me. I believe it can help many other,” Vanwormer said.

The nightmares from Vietnam still show up for Hank Cicutto. The only therapy that’s worked for him is on the water.

“When I was out there casting, I was just letting all the demons I brought home drift away,” Cicutto said.

Out here it’s not the catching that matters – it’s the healing.

“Whether they catch a fish or not, it cleans the cobwebs,” Vanwormer said. “And lots of the problems they carried with them, they’re able to let go and float it downstream.”

Project Healing Waters has chapters all across the country, including Nashville, Murfreesboro, Clarksville and Cookeville. Veterans are invited to get along. Click here for more information.

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