By Andreas Butler
For Hometown News
A local organization is reaching out to help veterans in a unique way.
The Mid-Coast Fly Fishers Club is teaching veterans to fly fish.
The club is working with the Veterans Wellness and Recovery Center in Port Orange through Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing.
Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing is a national program designed to help disabled active military personnel and veterans through fly-fishing.
The group meets with the veterans every third Wednesday of the month and takes them out to a local spot for some fishing.
One of the main goals of the endeavor is to help get the veterans back into society.
"It is very important that we provide them with such an outlet," said Dennis O'Brien, president of Mid-Florida Fly Fishers. "We are just helping them acquire a skill that they can use, and trying to help them get back out in society by showing them that there is something that they can do. Many are injured from combat and some even have post traumatic stress."
The program has been in existence for a year and has had positive feedback.
"We get a bunch of guys who keep going," Mr. O'Brien said. "We have anywhere between 10 to 20 vets come out each trip ... they keep trying and keep doing it."
"It has been excellent as more and more people are participating each meeting," said Captain Justin Price, vice president of Mid-Florida Fly Fishers.
Price also is a charter boat captain.
Fishing provides several benefits for veterans both physically and mentally.
"We are helping some of these guys use their hands and fingers that couldn't use them before," Mr. O'Brien said. "We are keeping them occupied with something else rather than their pain. They are also learning to be ambidextrous. We try to show them that there is something that they can do if they want to."
"It gives them something to look forward to," Capt. Price said. "Many of them are depressed due to their injuries. This also helps them use their hands in a physical therapy way. Fly fishing helps them not only physically but with their mental health."
The Mid-Coast Fly Fishers are based in New Smyrna Beach and meet every second Monday in the Fraternal Order of Police Hall at 471 Old Mission Road. The club has 80 members with a wealth of knowledge and talent from all across the United States and Canada.
The group also is looking to bring in new members, especially youngsters.
"We are looking to get more young people involved. A lot of our members are of an older demographic," Capt. Price said. "We all want to pass along fly fishing to others. Another one of our goals is to educate and teach people the sport."
The Mid-Coast Fly Fishers provide many fishing programs and opportunities for everyone.
They teach fly-fishing, fly tying and fishing tactics. There is an annual membership fee of $55. For more information, call (386) 409-9194.