By Samantha Joseph
STUART - John "JJ" Jamason doesn't like to talk about his illnesses, except to say he has "several terminal diagnoses" and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The former Marine and Vietnam veteran does spend most of his time, though, thinking of ways to help other ex-soldiers struggling with PTSD, an anxiety disorder.
He settled on the idea of sharing one of his favorite past times. That's why he and his wife, Debra, purchased a 25-foot boat to offer fishing excursions free of charge.
"A lot of the reason I wanted to take out these (veterans) is because a lot of them have PTSD. I've had it for 40 years, so I feel I'm uniquely qualified to deal with them," said Mr. Jamason, an avid fisherman.
"They get into this horrible grey area that causes a lot of anxiety. The calmness of the ocean helps."
Mr. Jamason is the cofounder of Wounded Warriors of South Florida, which serves veterans from Fort Pierce to Key West.
The regional group is not affiliated with the Wounded Warrior Project, a multi-million-dollar national agency.
Through the nonprofit, he helps provide rent assistance, food, money to pay utilities on the brink of disconnection, home and vehicle repairs, transportation to medical appointments, recreation programs and other services.
The group's goal is to so respond within two hours to all calls for assistance.
"You wouldn't think that having the electricity turned off would make a guy take a gun and shoot himself, but it would. That's a suicide event right there," Mr. Jamason said.
"Having someone to build a rapport with changes their life."
Since purchasing the boat, he has spent an additional $2,000 on modifications and fishing gear.
The free fishing trips will also be available to the spouses and children of disabled veterans or soldiers stationed away from home.
The excursions are set to depart from Sandsprit Park in Stuart, but Mr. Jamason will consider alternative launch sites to accommodate injured veterans.
"I'm completely retired and wait for vets to call me with issues that I can help resolve," he said. "It's all about giving back."
For more information, call (772) 245-8227. To contact Wounded Warriors of South Florida, visit www.wwofsf.org.