my wife's in the army and we live in el paso, tx, for now. so i mostly fish new mexico, which is a 5 minute drive from my house. mexico is a 10 minute drive...but we don't go there these days for obvious reasons if you follow the news.
i teach tying and casting lessons. i specialize in adaptive tying and casting, which is teaching those with injuries and disabilities, primarily wounded warriors and disabled veterans; but that just makes one a better teacher overall. i have also taught university, junior high, and elementary school fly fishing classes.
i am also an outdoor writer, avid upland bird and waterfowl hunter, and enjoy kayaking, canoeing, camping, hiking, trail running, and a few other sports.
thanks. i started out with project healing waters back in the spring of 2007 by starting a program at fort leonard wood in missouri. before i even got that 1 fully operational, they asked me to be the regional coordinator for the ozarks area. so i ended up with missouri, arkansas, oklahoma, western tennessee, and then it expanded to include louisiana, texas, and kansas...so that it matched the southern council of the federation of fly fishers' territory.
in the middle of 2008, army, navy, and va officials started talking to me about their desires to expand and professionalize the program. i took the concept to phwff's executive committee, but they weren't interested. when my wife got transfer orders to ft. bliss, it seemed like a good time to make a change. you see, i'm a disabled combat vet myself. and i have an older brother who is too. and he's a colonel chaplain in the reserves who just came off active duty due to injuries sustained in afghanistan. we're in a unique position to offer the military and the va a professionalized program that does not rely on volunteers and donations to sustain itself and deliver services through contracting with the military and va medical communities, military morale welfare and recreation offices, and the chaplain corps. it will also open up our programs' reach to military personnel's spouses and children who are also having emotional difficulties due to the extreme deployment schedules, deaths, combat injuries, and so forth that our military community is enduring through this long and grueling global war on terror. you have to remember: we've asked our military to fight a global war on multiple fronts since 2001 (8 years now) with half the force structure we had during desert storm, 1/5 the force we had during vietnam, and about 1/10 the force we fielded for ww2. i know many soldiers who have pulled as many as 7 deployments since 9/11/2001. that's 7 out of the last 8 years down range! it takes a toll on everyone. and even if they don't get shot or blown up, 100 lbs of body armor and personal gear 18 hrs/day x 7 days/wk x 365 days x 7 out of 8 yrs wears a body down fast. nerve and joint damage is almost universal after 2-3 tours. the army is working to lighten the protective gear without giving up protective properties now because of it. due to my own disabilities, i'm having to get medical clearance and go through vocation rehab and all that jazz just to get all this going. so it is taking some time to get it all set up and running. but you can imagine the diversity of adaptive issues we confront in these programs: orthopedic disabilities, amputees, brain injuries, mental illnesses, emotional problems...it runs the full range. we work with their clinical healthcare providers to come up with techniques (and gear if necessary) that overcome their limitations so that they can tie, cast, wade, and fish. we've even had a blind soldier. and we had one marine who tied with his one arm and his mouth. and he does a darned good job of it, too! and we've had guys and gals go through our programs who are now running programs of their own, teaching adaptive casting and tying to others.
rivers of recovery is a 501.c.3 charity that i work with during the summer months up in utah on the green river. we run trips for wounded warriors...5 day float/camp fishing trips where we try to integrate family members whenever possible. it's an awesome organization.
Ken you are doing very noble work, and your efforts to brighten the lives of our vets are deeply moving and hope that the waters are indeed heling in some way.
The sacrifice that our military families have gone through over the last 8 years has been enormous and that such a large burden has been borne by so few in our society has not been lost on the members here. I'm sure all would wish to thank you and your family for the sacrifices you have made and are making now. Our deepest thanks, and we're very glad you have joined us.
thanks. but in the interest of leaving no one behind, i didn't mention my nephew, cpt jason morrow (usarng), who just left for afghanistan this weekend. he is a desert storm vet (w/gulf war syndrome from chemical exposure), was mia for 2 days in iraq a couple years back when his humvee was hit by an ied and his driver killed and he was trapped in the vehicle(ptsd), and has a wife and 3 kids at ft. benning, ga. and my younger bro did a tour in the navy as a submariner.
so...yeah...to me this isn't about my country so much as it is about my family.
Your efforts are needed and this forum's members all appreciate it.
I've been interested in getting involved with PHW's efforts but just haven't gotten around to it. I don't have nearly enough free time to become any sort of area coordinator or anything like that. (infant at home)
If you're doing any events here in San Antonio, shoot me a PM and I'll see if I can squeeze in time to help out. I've been tying and casting for years, and have taught a few people how as well.
thanks, cliff. i'll certainly keep you in mind. san antonio is one of the cities where we have strong contacts and the military has a lot of need. my brother was a chaplain there at brooke army medical center in 2006-2007, and i visited there when i was the regional coordinator for phw.
from san antonio, we are most likely to do some pre-trip training there in town and then run a 3-day or weekend trip down to the coast...that sort of thing...moreso than going to the guad.
we also offer: canoe/kayak, backpacking, hunting, and off-shore fishing trips...fyi. but our first love is the fly fishing program.