Paying Forward in Montana - Warriors & Quiet Waters
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Paying Forward in Montana

Northwest Farm Credit Services on their volunteer experience at Quiet Waters Ranch

This article was originally published in Northwest Farm Credit Services' Winter 2020 issue of Yields Magazine.

In an age of chapters and affiliates, franchises and clones, one service organization stands alone. When you meet the incomparable Warriors & Quiet Waters Foundation, you’ll understand why.

After all, how could the majesty of Montana’s mountains, the reflections of its rivers, and the calming of the countryside be replicated anywhere else? It is near Bozeman on the 112-acre Quiet Waters Ranch that post-9/11 combat veterans and their spouses, caregivers, and active-duty special operations military personnel can find a week of peace as they take in a fly-fishing experience.

All expenses are paid, including a stipend for childcare by a family member. Participants also keep the top-of-the-line gear they are given to fish with. From the moment guests enter Barnard Lodge, the six-bedroom, eight-bath main home on the ranch, they’re greeted by the aroma of meals cooking and the warm smiles of volunteers. The feeling of family is vitally important to WQW, and that’s why they’re “very picky” about who may help. Their marines, sailors, soldiers, and airmen deserve no less.

In the past two years, we have supported WQW with funds and hundreds of volunteer service hours on site. Much of that time has been spent in the kitchen and at the grill, and making the guests feel at home in the lodge, whether it’s keeping them fed or playing charades with them at night.

Our volunteers set the stage. Because of them, especially the "Moms" and cooks, our guests know when they get to the ranch there will be food and warm, welcoming, and accepting people there to help them."

Emily Sather, Chief Development Officer

Before the main event – fly fishing on the river – guests are taught introductory skills and knowledge about the sport. They even learn how to tie flies. In 2019, 139 people took part, up 39 percent from 2018. Since its founding in 2007, WQW has provided fishing experiences to over 1,100 combat veterans and their spouses and caregivers from across the country.

Everything has been tailored to meet the needs of veteran guests and set them up for success. The lodge is fully ADA-compliant with a ramp and hardscaped paths for wheelchairs, accessible doorways, bathrooms, and buffet countertops. Even a boat has a door to accommodate roll-ins. The goal is to provide guests with independence and normalcy as they relax and reset and form new connections with people who share similar active-duty experiences. The result is the guests reporting feelings of security, serenity, resilience, hope, and camaraderie with good memories to last a lifetime.

The lodge will be busy from January through November. Applications are taken online. Applicants then go through a screening process with an interview to help determine which FX group they would best click with. And when they get to the lodge, we’ll be there to feed them.

Statistically speaking:

  • In 2012, the Department of Defense (DOD) estimated more than 50,000 Americans from Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom have been wounded in combat.
  • WQW provides a respite from the stresses of war, the monotony of lengthy hospital stays and traditional therapy, and the many day-to-day struggles involved in their journey home.

Learn more about the services Northwest Farm Credit Services offers by visiting their website.