WQW Helps Post- 9/11 Combat Veterans - Warriors & Quiet Waters
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Our Impact

In early 2021, Warriors & Quiet Waters Foundation engaged the Evaluation and Capacity Building team at Syracuse University's D'Aniello Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) to help measure and communicate the impact of our programs and better tell the story of our participants' journey toward finding peace, meaning, and purpose.

Annual Program Evaluation Process

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Creating a Theory of Change

WQW has partnered with Syracuse University's D'Aniello Institute for Veterans & Military Families (IVMF) to measure how the WQW experience impacts its participants through an in-depth evaluation based on proven research.

Defining Focus Areas

The IVMF and WQW teams identified the following core program elements and outcome categories: participants' intrinsic value, learning in the community, nature immersion, time for reflection, confidence, healing, and a sense of purpose and personal growth.

Measuring Impact Through Surveys

IVMF implemented a series of surveys* to collect data about the participant journey: a baseline survey before the program, a post-program survey immediately following each FX, and an annual survey sent in the winter. *Surveys were not required nor were they a prerequisite for program acceptance or participation.

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“WQW provided me the skills and equipment I needed to get out and experience nature in a way that is healthy and confidence building.”


Anonymous Warrior


Survey Results for First-Time Warrior Participants

Through this annual survey, we learned the following:


Prior to attending WQW, only 6% of the respondents indicated that they "Never” or “Almost never" felt nervous or stressed within the past week, but after the program 45% responded that they 'Never" or "Almost Never" felt nervous or stressed. This represents a reduction in stress levels after WQW and an increase of 598% in stress management.


There was a 240% improvement in sleep, with 51% of first-time Warriors reporting that they “fairly often” or “very often” “had a good night’s sleep” after attending WQW versus 15% before attending WQW.


Prior to attending WQW, only 19% of the respondents indicated that they "Never” or “Almost never" were angered because things were out of their control within the past week, compared to 49% after attending. This represents a 163% increase in anger control while they were participating in the program.


There was a 95% increase in clarity and purpose, with 41% of first-time Warriors reporting that they “strongly agreed” they “continue to gain clarity about what a meaningful life is for [them]” after attending WQW versus 21% before attending WQW.


There was a 63% increase in nature as a place to find clarity, with 88% of first-time Warriors reporting they “strongly agreed” that “nature creates a space where it is easier for [them] to think clearly” after attending WQW versus 54% before attending WQW.


There was a 53% improvement in coping with personal problems, with 61% of first-time Warriors reporting that they “strongly agreed” they “felt confident about [their] ability to handle [their] personal responsibilities” after attending WQW versus 40% before attending WQW.

As we learn more through these surveys, we’ll continue to report on WQW’s impact to participants, volunteers, donors, and partners.

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“Coming to WQW was like coming home, taking a deep breath, and relaxing on the couch. I was hesitant to come — my husband wanted to go for years — but I am so grateful for the chance to learn and grow together."


Warrior Spouse


Survey Results for Alumni

Through this annual survey, we learned the following:


reported they fly fishing helps them relax.


reported that fly fishing provides them with a sense of accomplishment.


reported that fly fishing has helped them learn about themselves.


felt the Couples FX brought them closer to their spouse.


felt connected to their partner after attending the Couples FX.


wanted to repeat the Couples FX experience with their partner outside of WQW.

Percentages represent survey respondents who agreed or strongly agreed.

Long Term Engagement

One of the factors that make WQW special is that alumni feel compelled not only to share the experience with their loved ones but also to come back and contribute to the positive WQW experience of other Warriors. The desire to return to Montana as a volunteer was a compelling theme across all groups. In the annual survey, participants had the opportunity to comment on their WQW experience in an open response question. The open response questions were coded based on the themes that participants shared. One of the themes was volunteering and giving back. IVMF found that volunteers freely mentioned the importance of giving back to WQW and had better scores across the domains measured, such as lower stress, greater resilience, improved physical and mental health, and reduced feelings of isolation. IVMF has more work to do in understanding these findings, but, at first glance, it appears by giving back, they are gaining a sense of purpose, which leads to greater thriving.

Summary of Significant Short-Term Impacts in Warriors

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Significant decrease in

stress and anger

Significant improvement

in sleep and night's rest

A deep appreciation for


A developed and deepened sense

of purpose, meaning, and belonging

Our Impact




Fishing Experiences


Volunteers (Annually)