In honor of our 15-year anniversary, we’re interviewing individuals who have been involved with Warriors & Quiet Waters Foundation (WQW) in different capacities, some of whom have been involved since the inception of the Foundation in 2007. Today, we’re interviewing Linda Wagner, an early volunteer and long-standing donor.
WQW: Linda, could you tell us about yourself and how you were introduced to Warriors & Quiet Waters?
Linda: I was acquainted with Eric and Jean Hastings. We went to the same church, and that’s the way I found out about WQW. I’ve always been a volunteering kind of person, and my husband and I were always outdoor people: hiking, backpacking, skiing, and bicycling. At that time, I used to fly fish quite a bit. I also had a background in nursing. I remember thinking, “Wow, this would be a great program to get involved in,” so that’s what I did. Then, in 2009, I moved away from Bozeman but was able to come back for a few years to spend a week as a volunteer companion.
WQW: You are one of 11 people who have donated to WQW every year since 2007. Why have you continued to support WQW for the last 15 years?
Linda: I see the impact that it has on the Warriors. I feel my money is put to good use, and I think it’s a much-needed program, and I know there are lots of others.
This is a program worth supporting, and it’s in my will. I have other charities that I also support, but I feel that WQW is a program that I need to continue supporting.
WQW: When you think back to your time as a volunteer, what do you remember most?
Linda: I’ve kept in touch with a couple of the guys I worked with. One still, the other one I don’t hear from anymore.
There was one experience that still stands out. A Warrior had been a medic, and while on deployment, his convoy was hit by roadside bombs, and the result was pretty awful. He was injured but still able to care for his buddies. Sadly, he couldn’t save everyone and just couldn’t resolve that fact. When he came to Warriors & Quiet Waters, he had fished in the past but had never done any fly fishing. He was a big guy, very standoffish, and didn’t want to talk to anyone. He went along with things sort of grudgingly. You could see him open up over the week, and it still makes me cry. At the final dinner, he came up and gave me the biggest bear hug and said I totally changed his life.
I heard from him for a while afterward, and it seemed like he got his life changed around. He got married and had a family.
Linda Wagner, WQW donor and volunteer
WQW: Since you have been someone who has watched the entire journey of WQW, how have we changed and how have we stayed the same?
Linda: The growth is what is different. WQW has gained a lot more programs and transitioned to a paid staff and an office. These days it seems like there are programs almost year-round. In the early days, there was no office and only a group of volunteers. I was happy that WQW could expand and afford to have a staff running it. I mean, it had gotten large enough that it was difficult to still be just a volunteer-led organization.
Now there is the Quiet Waters Ranch, which I think is great because it is a place where you don’t have to be worrying about where you’re going to rent next, so Warriors have a place to come to.
I think the personal contact and outfitting of each participant with fly fishing gear and clothing is important and have been maintained. So, I think a lot of things are the same, but there sure have been a lot of changes too.
To celebrate our 15th Anniversary with us, please consider making a difference in the lives of the veterans we serve. Interested in supporting Warriors similar to how Linda has? Learn about planned giving, so you can continue to leave a lasting legacy in support of Warriors.