Heroes on the Water: Helping Vets through Kayak Fishing

Heroes on the Water uses kayak fishing to promote therapy and healing for veterans, active-duty military, and first responders and their families…

veteran kayak fishing

Why Kayaking and Fishing for Therapy?

Heroes on the Water began in 2007 to provide veteran services using an unconventional method—kayak fishing—in rehabilitation. After more than 10 years serving this demographic, as well as active-duty, their families and, starting in 2018, first responders, HOW has seen amazing results:

  • 60% less re-experience, flashbacks and nightmares
  • 56% less stress
  • 63% less avoidance of triggers
  • 62% less hyper-vigilance and extreme sensitivity to surroundings

Why does kayak fishing work? The peace…relaxation…connection with nature…low-impact workout…easy adaptation to disabilities. These all work together to help improve rates of depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress. It also helps build community with their families and others.

HOW encourages their participants to keep coming back, so their experience isn’t just a one-time event. A large reason for their effectiveness is engaging with them for the long term.

They also bring a family-focus to their work, because they understand the struggles vets face don’t just affect them, but their entire family, too.

preparing for kayak fishing

Success Stories

HOW’s website has many testimonials from the folks they serve. Here’s one of them:

“The whole point [about HOW] is putting a veteran in a kayak with a fishing rod and giving him the chance to be a normal person no matter what has happened. You have no idea how powerful that is. It’s something that no traditional therapy can give you.

“I wouldn’t be where I’m at today—teacher, foster parent, parent, husband—if it wasn’t for this organization. I will honestly say that fishing and HOW saved my life. They changed everything about my life for the better.”

(Ray Queen, US Army)

How You Can Participate

HOW is an an actively-growing organization that depends on volunteers, sponsors and donors—both individual and corporate.

To learn how to partner with HOW, check out the Participate page on their website.
Click here to find a HOW Chapter or event near you.

veteran preparing to kayak

Bending Branches is proud to support Heroes on the Water!

You can connect with Heroes on the Water on their website, Facebook and Instagram.

(All photos courtesy of Heroes on the Water)

Call or email our Wisconsin-based customer service team with your paddle questions today: 715-755-3405 • [email protected]

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