For many of our nation's most heroic military personnel, returning to civilian life is an incredible challenge. After going through the toughest of experiences, feeling at peace in a world so different from that of combat is an immensely difficult obstacle to overcome. The Warriors and Quiet Waters Foundation, located in Bozeman and home to many MSU alumni, has been facing this challenge head-on since 2007, using the therapeutic benefits of fly fishing to offer veterans who have been struggling with post-traumatic stress discover an alternative avenue of healing.
The organization's founder, retired Marine Colonel Eric Hastings, realized after he returned to his native Montana in 1969 that fly fishing was the best medicine he had to deal with his trauma from flying in the Vietnam War. With the help of Volney Steele, Ph.D and many others, Hastings embarked on creating a foundation that could provide this “medicine” to other veterans who had recently returned from combat.
With their main ranch located in the beautiful Gallatin Valley, the foundation has access to a huge variety of places to fish. Guests can float down one of the area’s blue ribbon trout rivers or fish in the well-maintained ponds located on the property. On the foundation's website, warriorsandquietwaters.com, they explain that outcomes of fishing can include, “a reduction in feelings of isolation, better mental health and improved relationships.”
The ranch itself sits on over 100 acres surrounded by breathtaking views of the Bridger, Gallatin, Tobacco Root and Spanish Peaks mountain ranges. They offer five-star accommodations accompanied by meals cooked by one of the dedicated “moms” who work on the ranch. The foundation emphasizes the importance of this type of environment and how far removed it is from that of hospitals and rigorous combat.
For those who are interested in supporting and raising awareness for the foundation, their website offers methods of involvement through volunteering and merchandise sales. Their gear can be seen proudly displayed all over town and throughout the country. The foundation also holds events such as “5 Days of Giving,” which ran from Sept. 25–30 and to helped raise money and awareness for this worthy cause. To stay involved in upcoming events, make sure to check out their social media pages @warriorsandquietwaters on Instagram and Facebook to see what’s coming up.
While fly fishing is obviously beneficial for the masses, it can be especially important for those returning from serving in our nation's military. Foundations such as Warriors and Quiet Waters are some of the amazing ways our inspired community can make a difference in the lives of those who gave up so much for us. So to Warriors and Quiet Waters and the other amazing foundations we are surrounded by, know that the Bobcat nation is immensely thankful and appreciative.