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Disabled vets partake in MacDill's healing waters

James Custer, a Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing participant, practices newly learned casting techniques at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., April 17, 2014.  The group’s most recent outing took place at MacDill Air Force Base’s Lewis Lake, where volunteers aided participants as they honed their new-found casting skills and dipped their freshly tied flies. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Brandon Shapiro/Released)

James Custer, a Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing participant, practices newly learned casting techniques at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., April 17, 2014. The group’s most recent outing took place at MacDill Air Force Base’s Lewis Lake, where volunteers aided participants as they honed their new-found casting skills and dipped their freshly tied flies. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Brandon Shapiro/Released)

Deborah Brooks, Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing Tampa lead, demonstrates proper casting techniques during a class held at MacDill Air Force Base, April 17, 2014. Events like these are the backbone of the program; they give individuals the confidence to get out of their comfort zones and meet new people. With this, they are able to condition their mental and physical ailments in an environment that is relaxing and easy to enjoy from nearly anywhere. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Brandon Shapiro/Released)

Deborah Brooks, Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing Tampa lead, demonstrates proper casting techniques during a class held at MacDill Air Force Base, April 17, 2014. Events like these are the backbone of the program; they give individuals the confidence to get out of their comfort zones and meet new people. With this, they are able to condition their mental and physical ailments in an environment that is relaxing and easy to enjoy from nearly anywhere. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Brandon Shapiro/Released)

James Custer, a Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing participant, practices newly learned casting techniques at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., April 17, 2014.  The group’s most recent outing took place at MacDill Air Force Base’s Lewis Lake, where volunteers aided participants as they honed their new-found casting skills and dipped their freshly tied flies. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Brandon Shapiro/Released)

James Custer, a Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing participant, practices newly learned casting techniques at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., April 17, 2014. The group’s most recent outing took place at MacDill Air Force Base’s Lewis Lake, where volunteers aided participants as they honed their new-found casting skills and dipped their freshly tied flies. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Brandon Shapiro/Released)

A participant from Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing displays a fly that was tied during one of their weekly instructional classes, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., April 17, 2014. PHWFF is dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of veterans. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Brandon Shapiro/Released)

A participant from Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing displays a fly that was tied during one of their weekly instructional classes, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., April 17, 2014. PHWFF is dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of veterans. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Brandon Shapiro/Released)

Petty Officer 1st Class Danny White, Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing instructor, displays a fish during a class held at MacDill Air Force Base, April 17, 2014. PHWFF is a no-cost program that consists of rotational fly tying, casting and rod building classes for disabled veterans. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Brandon Shapiro/Released)

Petty Officer 1st Class Danny White, Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing instructor, displays a fish during a class held at MacDill Air Force Base, April 17, 2014. PHWFF is a no-cost program that consists of rotational fly tying, casting and rod building classes for disabled veterans. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Brandon Shapiro/Released)

A participant from Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing  holds a rod and reel while waiting for a fish strike at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., April 17, 2014.  The group’s most recent outing took place at MacDill Air Force Base’s Lewis Lake, where volunteers aided participants as they honed their new-found casting skills and dipped their freshly tied flies. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Brandon Shapiro/Released)

A participant from Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing holds a rod and reel while waiting for a fish strike at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., April 17, 2014. The group’s most recent outing took place at MacDill Air Force Base’s Lewis Lake, where volunteers aided participants as they honed their new-found casting skills and dipped their freshly tied flies. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Brandon Shapiro/Released)

James Custer, a Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing participant, practices newly learned casting techniques at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., April 17, 2014.  The group’s most recent outing took place at MacDill Air Force Base’s Lewis Lake, where volunteers aided participants as they honed their new-found casting skills and dipped their freshly tied flies. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Brandon Shapiro/Released)

James Custer, a Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing participant, practices newly learned casting techniques at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., April 17, 2014. The group’s most recent outing took place at MacDill Air Force Base’s Lewis Lake, where volunteers aided participants as they honed their new-found casting skills and dipped their freshly tied flies. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Brandon Shapiro/Released)

Deb and Harold Bell, Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing participants, ready their fly rod during class held at MacDill Air Force Base, April 17, 2014. PHWFF is dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of veterans through fly fishing and associated activities, including education and outings. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Brandon Shapiro/Released)

Deb and Harold Bell, Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing participants, ready their fly rod during class held at MacDill Air Force Base, April 17, 2014. PHWFF is dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of veterans through fly fishing and associated activities, including education and outings. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Brandon Shapiro/Released)

Stan Green, a Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing participant, practices casting during a class held at MacDill Air Force Base, April 17, 2014. Green is a Vietnam-era Navy veteran. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Brandon Shapiro/Released)

Stan Green, a Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing participant, practices casting during a class held at MacDill Air Force Base, April 17, 2014. Green is a Vietnam-era Navy veteran. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Brandon Shapiro/Released)

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- As a way to give back to the community, and serve disabled veterans and resilience seeking active duty military members, a mind/body initiative was created--Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing.

"Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing is dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of veterans," stated Deborah Brooks, PHWFF Tampa project lead. "We accomplish this through fly fishing and associated activities, including education and outings."

Although PHWFF is a nationwide organization, a newly founded Tampa chapter has been steadily rehabilitating our nation's heroes one cast at a time since their inception on Jan. 8, 2014.

The all-volunteer staff at PHWFF Tampa is collectively comprised of active duty military members from MacDill Air Force Base, and Korean, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom war veterans.

"Being in the military we have a profound understanding of the hardships that our veterans face," commented Air Force Staff Sgt. Chad Kimmell, PHWFF volunteer. "From post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, to traumatic brain injuries and other psychological issues, we simply focus our rehabilitative efforts through the love of fly fishing."

The group's most recent outing took place at MacDill's Lewis Lake, where volunteers aided participants as they honed their newfound casting skills and dipped their freshly tied flies.

Events like these are the backbone of the program; they give individuals the confidence to get out of their comfort zones and meet new people. With this, they are able to condition their mental and physical ailments in an environment that is relaxing and easy to enjoy from nearly anywhere.

"Project Healing Waters is such an inspiration," said Stan Green, a Navy Vietnam-era veteran and PHWFF participant. "Growing up on a small dairy farm in New York I developed a passion for the outdoors. Through this program I am able to indulge my interests, meet new people and try new things."

Not only do the participants benefit from the program, the volunteer staff continually reiterates the fact that there is an inherent sense of delight.

"Each and every veteran that we help brings us a great deal of joy," said Kimmell. "It's an overwhelming feeling of pride to get to know these heroes, all while helping them cope with their issues--there's no better feeling."

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Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing meets every Wednesday night from 6-8 p.m. at the American Legion Post #5, 3810 W. Kennedy, Tampa, FL 33608. The no-cost program consists of rotational fly tying, casting and rod building classes.

For further information please contact the Tampa program lead, Deborah Brooks at (720) 878-5842 or by email at admin@projecthealingwaterstampa.org