Hi. I’m Brian Gilman, CEO of Warriors & Quiet Waters Foundation.
In the coming weeks, you’re going to see and hear us talking about a new program that we’re conducting this year. We felt it was important that you hear from me about this program and why we’re doing it.
Warriors & Quiet Waters Foundation is a striving organization that is working hard to do more for more post-9/11 combat veterans. That’s the mandate that the entire team –our Board of Directors, our Staff, and our Volunteers – are committed to because we recognize that the need to enable post-9/11 combat veterans to thrive is immense. We know this, because this year, we received five times more applications from combat veterans than we have available program opportunities.
One of the many ways that we do that is by conducting year-round programming for our combat veteran participants. Starting last year and going forward, we’re conducting programming every month of the year except December. As you can see by my surroundings, it's winter here in Montana. The opportunity to create meaningful fly fishing experiences that rise to the Warriors & Quiet Waters Gold Standard can only be found between April and October here in Montana.
That brings me to the new program I mentioned earlier. It’s a program we’re calling the Florida Fishing Experience. The program is aptly named because it's a saltwater flats fly fishing program that we’ll be conducting in Everglades National Park in Florida.
We’re doing one Florida FX this year as a pilot program – it’s a test – to see if we can scale this program in future years to create more programming opportunities for our Built for More program’s Capstone Fishing Experience. As a reminder, the Built for More program is now our flagship program – the program that every new WQW participant will experience as their initial touch with Warriors & Quiet Waters Foundation.
In the Built for More program, participants first experience our Solo FX here in Montana, return home and accompany their Solo FX cohort through a 9-12 month long remote, online journey of discovery and growth, and then return to Warriors & Quiet Waters Foundation for their Capstone Fishing Experience.
If we can scale the Florida Fishing Experience in future years, it gives Warriors & Quiet Waters Foundation many more opportunities to conduct Capstone Fishing Experiences in the winter months – which enables us to serve more post-9/11 combat veterans. It enables us to do more, for more combat veterans and their loved ones.
I want to also assure you that the Florida Fishing Experience will meet the same Gold Standard that we hold ourselves to for all our other programs. We’re not farming it out – our staff will deploy to Florida to run the FX, and the same elements of all our other programs will remain. Pristine waters and landscapes, professional fly-fishing guides, volunteers that create the bonds of trust and connection with our participants, and the Sayonara dinner will all endure with the Florida Fishing Experience.
Now we recognize that many of our supporters who hear this may worry that Warriors & Quiet Waters Foundation is drifting away from its identity as a Montana-based non-profit. I’m here today to assure you that this is simply not the case. As a fifth-generation Montanan, this last best place – Montana – is my geographical fulcrum - a place so saturated with memory, meaning, and connection – that it is core to my identity. Montana is and always will be Warriors & Quiet Waters Foundation’s geographical fulcrum as well.
Every one of our participants will come to Montana for their first experience with Warriors & Quiet Waters Foundation, and the vast majority of them will return to Montana for their Capstone Fishing Experience. The Florida Fishing Experience will be for those few whose Capstone FX falls in the winter months. And for those participants, after their Capstone FX, they’ll be invited to return to Montana to participate in one of our many Montana-based alumni experiences.
Our hope is that you – the Warriors & Quiet Waters supporters that make our work possible – recognize the opportunity to do more for more veterans that can be found in the Florida Fishing Experience.
On behalf of the Board of Directors, our National Advisory Board, and our Staff, I invite you to come along on this exciting new opportunity. There are lots of ways to help – view and share the images and stories that will come from the Florida FX with your friends. Tell them that Warriors & Quiet Waters Foundation is a striving organization that is doing all it can to enable post-9/11 combat veterans and their loved ones to thrive. Tell them that ours is a mission worth investing in.
CEO | Warriors & Quiet Waters Foundation
Colonel, USMC, (Ret.)