My first Warriors & Quiet Waters (WQW) experience saved my life. I felt joyful, at peace, and alive again, for the first time since I was seriously wounded in an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) attack in Afghanistan on September 19, 2011.
While serving as a Cavalry Scout in the Army, my Stryker was hit by an IED, breaching the hull and wounding all four of the soldiers in it. I emerged with a traumatic brain injury that impacted my long- and short-term memory.
The injury was life-changing. I’d forget things as small as what I did earlier in the week, but that’s nothing compared to losing memories of my daughter Emma’s early years. Losing important memories of your past is unexplainable. As my wife Susan put it, I went from, “‘Badass Cavalry Scout’ to ‘What the hell did I have for breakfast?’ in the blink of an eye at 30 years old.” I found myself shutting my family out, anxious and depressed. I didn’t yet have a healthy way to deal with these issues.
About five years ago, another soldier told me about WQW. I was in a very dark place, at risk of losing many of the things I loved most. I had heard of the healing power of being on the water and fly fishing and figured I would try it.
After my first Fishing Experience in 2017, I experienced the joy of connecting to nature in ways that improved my future. Now when times get hard I can close my eyes and find myself floating on the river and catching a beautiful brown trout. I can then tell myself everything is okay and I can get through this. You gave me this tool.
My love for fly fishing continues to grow and I attend every WQW program I can. This summer my wife and I were able to show our daughter the beauty of Montana during WQW’s first Family program. The joy in Emma’s eyes when she held her first trout melted my heart. I now get to share these experiences with her and my wife on our home waters in Florida, and it’s a bond that will never be broken.
Because of donors like you, I fly fish multiple times a week. When I’m on the water, I have no worries. All of my focus goes into what’s going on around me. The breeze, the smell of the salt, the variety of shorebirds, and what the fish are doing. I find myself coming home more willing to open up to my wife and be fully present with my daughter – happy and clear-headed.
You saved my life. You helped me feel joy and peace. Our family feels whole again. WQW will stop at nothing to help Warriors and their loved ones rebuild themselves. Every year, they continue to do more and more for our nation’s veterans. Please donate today to support more of my brothers and sisters in arms.