WQW

Military Caregiver Program


You Deserve Respite and Support

We provide a safe, supportive environment, connect military caregivers to nature in a meaningful way, and teach them how to fly fish while equipping caregivers with the gear, skills, and knowledge to continue to fly fish when they return home.

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Our program application is currently closed.

If you would like to be among the first to know when our 2025 application becomes available, please provide your contact information. We will get in touch with you via email in the fall of 2024 when our application period opens.

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CREATE LASTING CHANGE

Our programs are progressive, encouraging participants to return to take part in alumni programs. These programs allow caregivers to develop their skills further, invite their loved ones, and deepen their relationships with their families and the WQW community.

What to Expect at Your First FX

The Caregiver FX is specifically for primary caregivers of post-9/11 combat veterans. We value the caregiver's role in a Warrior's life and the unique challenges you face as a caregiver. Outlined below are some of the activities a participant can expect to see on most FXs.

Participants arrive in Bozeman, Montana and are met by WQW staff and volunteers. Participants are then transported to Quiet Waters Ranch for lunch and downtime. Lunch is followed by a visit from Simms Fishing staff to be outfitted with top-of-the-line gear that you'll get to take home with you at the end of the FX. Once outfitted, the participants retire to Quiet Waters Ranch. Each evening, participants can expect time to relax and delicious home-cooked meals provided by the volunteer “Mom” crew.

The first full day of fishing takes place on a private pond. Each participant is paired with a volunteer companion and a professional, licensed fly fishing guide. The morning is full of instruction focused on the fundamentals of fly fishing. WQW’s volunteer support crew serves an outdoor lunch before participants head to the pond to finish their instruction for the day.

This is participants’ first introduction to some of Montana’s premier Blue Ribbon trout streams. Each participant spends the day either floating or walking/wading with their guide and companion on one of the many public or private waters around Southwest Montana. Adaptive equipment is available as needed for the various conditions of our participants.

Participants once again head out with their guides and companions for a full day of fishing. At day’s end, everyone involved in the week – Caregivers, guides, volunteers, and a few staff members – meet at Quiet Waters Ranch for a “Sayonara” dinner.

Participants are transported to the airport. By now, participants have become a part of the WQW family. They also have the basic skills and equipment necessary to continue the healing craft of fly fishing independently.

								 Laura

"

Before coming to WQW, I felt very alone as a caregiver. I now know there is a whole community of people out there who understand me and my day-to-day and are here to support me.

"

Laura Barker

Military Caregiver

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.

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.

WQW has an active zero alcohol policy on all experiences.

Built for More discusses spiritual fitness, not religion. Essentially, there’s space in our program to incorporate any spiritual practices that contribute to your growth. We do not take or encourage any particular religious stance (including being religious at all), and we ask that you respect religious differences across your cohort.

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.

While we relied on experts to develop our program, it is completely non-clinical and non-medical. That said, we support Warriors in getting all the care they need, and you’ll continue your existing care during the program. If therapy or psychiatric care is something you choose to start during the program, we’re happy to make recommendations for veteran-focused organizations.

These proven expeditions are still the bookends to Built for More—but now, there’s an essential new program in between. Over the years, Warriors were impressed with how these reflective outdoor adventures could serve as a turning point in their lives but requested more guidance for making long term changes. Built for More answers that call with a structured, expert-driven program that still relies heavily on those original excursions.

There are still a number of shorter specialty programs for alumni, but all first-time Warriors now start with Built for More.

View an example Built for More schedule HERE

Built for More is a program we developed ourselves, rooted in in-depth research, evidence-based expertise in wellness and psychology, and our own years of experience. It’s structured to be challenging, but not overwhelming, as you dive into self-exploration, identify areas of growth, and develop healthy habits. You can expect elements of video, facilitated group discussion, reflection, and skill development exercises.

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.

WQW is committed to objectivity when reviewing applications. This thorough screening process requires confirmation of participation in combat operations, either through the receipt of combat awards or proof of service in a location in which you received Imminent Danger Pay.

Please include your service record (DD214 Member-4, ERB, ORB, BIR, BTR, etc.). We recognize that service records are confidential and are stored securely.

Check the following locations on your DD214 to ensure eligibility (only one of the following requirements must appear):

•Block 13: Decorations Medals, Badges, Citations, and Campaign Ribbons (check the continuation page for overflow of Block 13 information).

•Block 18: Remarks. This is where you will find information about receiving Imminent Danger Pay.

If you do not see confirmation of participation in combat operations on your DD214, or if you are currently Active Duty and do not possess a DD214, please provide any official documentation of combat related service. This can include, but is not limited to:

•Award Citations for Combat Awards (ie. Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon/Badge/Medal, Combat Infantry Badge, Bronze Star with "V" device, etc.)

•Service Record (which clearly indicates combat service and/or deployment information)

**If you do NOT possess any of the above documentation, but think you still qualify, let us know why in your application!

Currently, we’re focused on making our programs richer and more effective for the same number of veterans annually. For now, we aim to grow in impact, not size, working hard to offer transformative experiences to roughly 300 veterans a year.