WQW

Alumni Programs


More Opportunities for Long-term Growth and Connection

After the first FX, veterans and their loved ones are part of the WQW family for life. WQW offers several ways for alumni to return to Quiet Waters Ranch to further hone their new skills, deepen the connections they’ve made, share meaningful experiences with family members, and continue fostering their sense of purpose in civilian life.

If you previously participated in an FX, we’d love to see you back at the ranch. Review our alumni opportunities below, then use our year-round application to apply for those that most interest you.

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Alumni Experiences

Smith River FX

Backcountry FX

Ice FX

Smith River FX

On the Smith River FX, Warriors spend four nights away from it all, floating to four different campsites along the iconic Smith River in central Montana. Paired with seasoned fishing guides, Warriors have ample opportunities to hone their fly fishing skills learned in the first FX. Away from cell phone service, wifi and the stresses of everyday life, Warriors find mental space to reflect on their service and connect with fellow Warriors, fly fishing guides, and volunteers.

Goals

  • Create a renewed connection to the WQW community

  • Renewed connection with the restorative capacity of nature

  • Find relief from stress and anxiety of day-to-day life

  • Develop a sense of accomplishment through the completion of a challenging trip

  • Find a space to make meaning of your service and your future as a Veteran

Backcountry FX

The Backcountry FX is an enhanced take on our traditional Solo FX for WQW Alumni looking to practice their skills in a new environment. Warriors traverse into the high alpine country of Southwest Montana for four nights with the assistance of llamas to carry their gear. They then set camp and make their way to mountain waters and streams in and around camp to fly fish. The pristine wilderness is the ideal place for Warriors to disconnect from everyday anxieties and reconnect to their purpose.

Goals

  • Create a renewed connection to the WQW community

  • Renewed connection with the restorative capacity of nature

  • Find relief from stress and anxiety of day-to-day life

  • Develop a sense of accomplishment through the completion of a challenging trip

  • Find a space to make meaning of your service and your future as a Veteran

Ice FX

During an Ice FX, Warriors and loved ones can return to Montana in the winter to brave the icy temperatures and learn to fish in a majestic frozen landscape. We provide the cold-weather clothing, gear, and skills to fish comfortably and confidently. After fishing, participants have plenty of time to warm up at Quiet Waters Ranch, reconnect with their military community, and consider their purpose after service.

Goals

  • Create a renewed connection to the WQW community

  • Renewed connection with the restorative capacity of nature

  • Find relief from stress and anxiety of day-to-day life

  • Develop a sense of accomplishment through the completion of a challenging trip

  • Find a space to make meaning of your service and your future as a Veteran

Couples FX

Family FX

Photography Experience

Couples FX

The Couples FX brings six couples together who often share common experiences. WQW created the Couples FX recognizing that there are unique challenges in post-combat relationships. On a Couples FX, Warriors and their partners get to spend uninterrupted days on the water, nurturing their relationships and learning new skills together. For those with children, WQW pays for the cost of a trusted friend or family member to provide in-home childcare while the couple is away.

Goals

  • Create a safe, supportive environment where couples find peace and connection

  • Provide tools and confidence to participate in a new shared activity

  • Provide a new way for couples to bond and relax together

Family FX

The Family FX brings together three military families. We launched our pilot Family FX in the summer of 2021. The Family FXs are designed to provide a safe and supportive environment for military families, create an enhanced sense of community through meaningful connections, improve intra-familial communication, and strengthen couples' relationships and parent-child relationships.

Goals

  • Provide peace and relaxation for the entire family in a safe, supportive environment

  • Teach participants to fish and enable them to continue fishing as a family upon returning home

  • Create an enhanced sense of community through lasting, meaningful connections with other families, volunteers, and staff

  • Improve intra-family communication

  • Strengthen couples’ relationships as well as parent-child relationships

Photography Experience

The Photography Experience (PX) gives Warriors the opportunity to explore the art of photography while being present for multiple WQW programs. Warriors attend the PX in the pursuit of discovering or enhancing their level of photography under the tutelage of WQW photographer and former Combat Correspondent SGT Mike MacLeod. The Warriors will receive instruction in photography basics, landscape, and human portraiture. At the conclusion of the week, they will combine all elements learned to produce a final project photo. Through this process, they will engage with the group of six Warriors in a shared activity that they will take home and either pursue personally or professionally. The PX does not end with one week-long experience in Montana though. These Warriors will travel back to Montana up to three different times the following season to shoot a WQW program and apply their newfound or enhanced skills in photography to capture other Warriors and supply them with priceless memories of their time at WQW.

Goals

  • Provide a renewed sense of purpose, identity, and values

  • Teach participants the art of photography from a professional and enable them to continue this art upon returning home

  • Create an enhanced sense of community through lasting, meaningful connections found in a common pursuit and growth in a network of other professional photographers

  • Newfound or enhanced skill and confidence in photography that can be applied anywhere personally or professionally

Conservation FX

COMMIT Partnership Workshop

Coaching Mentorship Program

Conservation FX

The Conservation FX connects Warrior Alumni to a conservation partner through a meaningful, hands-on project to protect and restore coldwater fisheries. Warriors gain a deep understanding of fish habitats and experience the value of giving back to the resources they recreate in.

Goals

  • Find satisfaction and self-esteem through giving back to the environment
  • Create a renewed connection to the WQW community
  • Increase connection with the restorative capacity of nature
  • Develop a sense of accomplishment through the completion of a conservation project

COMMIT Partnership Workshop

The COMMIT Foundation conducts transition workshops for veterans and service members at Quiet Waters Ranch in collaboration with WQW. This partnership serves both WQW Alumni and COMMIT participants.

Goals

  • Gain a positive understanding of the veteran reintegration process after service

  • Identify your values, strengths, culture and opportunities

  • Set the stage for a passionate pursuit of a meaningful career

Coaching Mentorship Program

The Coaching Mentorship Program pairs Warrior alumni with their own certified, professional coach whose primary role is to support alumni in accomplishing a significant personal or professional goal over 12 months time. This is an intense, year-long program that requires a great deal of willingness and active participation.

Goals

  • Discover strengths and passions that point you to your larger purpose
  • Learn to set and plan for measurable, achievable goals for self-improvement
  • Build long-lasting relationships with mentors and other Warriors as you work toward your goal
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Volunteer as an Alumni

Give back to the WQW community in a fulfilling way by volunteering as an alumni. We encourage all alumni to return to serve as a Companion, Mom/Dad, Team Lead or Assistant Team Lead, or in some other capacity.

Learn More About Volunteering

Participant FAQs

Yes, Quiet Waters Ranch is accessible for people with disabilities. We work to accommodate all disabilities to the fullest extent possible. Our staff, guides, and volunteers are well-versed at accommodating various types of disabilities and conditions (including those who are visually and audibly impaired) to ensure a positive and rewarding experience.

Please use the application link to apply for one of these programs. Historically, Warrior Alumni have been able to email our program team, and we ask that you use this application for all future programs.

Yes. WQW has a service dog acknowledgment and agreement that allows service dogs to go fishing with participants.

Yes! Everything from clothing to equipment is yours to keep. Our goal is to set you up with everything you need so you can continue to tap into your new skills independently without gear as a barrier.

No, you DO NOT have to be a Purple Heart recipient to qualify for our programs.

Although volunteers for the 2022 cohort of Hunt for Purpose have already been selected, there are lots of others ways to empower post-9/11 combat veterans and their loved ones to thrive. Get started by submitting a volunteer application. Once we receive your application, we’ll connect with you one-on-one to best match your interests and skills with a volunteer opportunity.

The five applicants were chosen based on their ability to clearly communicate the need they have for participating in this program and their ability and willingness to commit to the requirements of the program.

WQW has an active zero alcohol policy on all experiences.

Absolutely. WQW strives to build long-term relationships with our participants and we are always looking to have you return for more experiences or as a volunteer. However, Warriors who attend their first experience are not guaranteed an invitation to return for future programs.

Yes, there is wifi and cell phone service at the ranch so that participants can connect with their loved ones as needed while they’re away. However, the ranch is an ideal place to take a break from your devices and reconnect with yourself and your community. We highly recommend being fully present as much as possible for this one-of-a-kind experience.

WQW programs are at no cost to the participant including paid-for air travel to Montana, comfortable lodging and home-cooked meals, professional instruction, and gear for trip’s activities.

For this proof-of-concept run of Hunt for Purpose, WQW opened applications to WQW program alumni in January 2022. Five participants were selected for the first cohort of Hunt for Purpose. Applications will open again in late Autumn 2023 for the second cohort of this new program.

All applications and service documents are thoroughly reviewed for qualifying criteria by our Chief Program Officer and Program Director.

Selection for a WQW program is NOT GUARANTEED even if all program criteria are met. Selection is at WQW’s discretion and we appreciate your understanding.

Our experiences are for post-9/11 combat veterans and their loved ones who are looking for a new way to connect, grow, explore purpose, and thrive.

While our application is open to all post-9/11 combat veterans, our selection process strives to select and place applicants with the greatest need. Even if all selection criteria are met, selection for our programs (first-time and Alumni programs) is solely at the discretion of Warriors & Quiet Waters. Requirements for selection include:

  • Must be a Post-9/11 Combat Veteran

  • Must provide a DD214 Member-4 copy and current photos

  • If active duty, current service record will be requested

  • If you are a caregiver, we require the above information on your care recipient

  • Must be committed to positive growth

  • Must be willing to engage in a supportive group environment

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