The 2018 “Backcountry Purple Heart/Disabled Veterans Slam III”, an annual two-day fishing event, will be held August 21-23, 2018 at Flamingo in Everglades National Park, for 30 active duty/retired wounded and disabled veterans, in order to assist in their medical recovery and rehabilitation. These participants will be coming together to form a cadre of comrades and share in an adventure they will remember for years to come.  To learn more about this years event and how you can help click here >.  You can also stay current with our South Florida Program by following them on Facebook:  Project Healing Waters – South Florida >


PHWFF-S. Florida in cooperation with the U.S. Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Regiment, the Vantage Point Foundation, and the Veterans Administration conducted the “Backcountry Purple Heart/Disabled Veterans Slam II”, an annual two-day fishing venue, held August 23-24, 2017 at Flamingo in Everglades National Park, for 14 active duty/retired wounded and disabled veterans, in order to assist in their medical recovery and rehabilitation.

This was a two-day event which was conducted in Everglades National Park in southwest Florida.  Our fourteen participants were; recipients of the Purple Heart for injuries incurred during ground combat operations in either Iraq or Afghanistan, disabled combat veterans, and active duty personnel assigned to Marine Forces South located in Miami, Florida.

The participants spent two days fishing the backcountry and flats of Flamingo, a fishery known to host some of the largest professional fishing tournaments in south Florida.  Both days began with an early morning muster at the hotel parking lot and convoying down the 71 miles to the park’s boat launch via a 15-passenger van donated by the City of Homestead Florida.  Once they arrived the participants were assigned to their skiff and given their drinks and meals which were delivered by skiff which traversed across Florida Bay from Islamorada each morning.  Assigned to their skiff with their professional guide (all donated their time and equipment, an $800.00 daily value) they moved to their fishing grounds and spent the day chasing tarpon, snook, redfish, sea trout, and other saltwater species.  All skiffs returned to the boat ramps at 1500hrs and the participants were taken back to the hotel to cleans up.  Each evening they dined at a local restaurant which provided their meals free of charge.   The evenings were one of new comrades bonding and tall tales of great battles with the epic species which inhabit the waters of Flamingo.

Some comments from our guides and participants summed it up and validated the measure of success …

Captain Benny Blanco, one of our professional guides: “It was difficult to hold back emotions when hearing the participants talk about their experiences in the Park. The change in their demeanor was evident and their words were heartfelt. Words like, “I was a hermit, stuck inside my house, now, I have a renewed love for life” and “I have found purpose again.” or, “These last two days were the best of my life.

Senior Chief Lester Cruz Yogi USN (Ret.) one of our local participants: “I want to thank you and everyone who was involved with this Amazing program. I did not know any of the other wounded Vets, but the minute we all met, it was a constant sense of relief meeting one of my fellow brothers and sister and knowing that there are at least 13 other people who will not look at you or treat you differently because of our disabilities and unfortunate experiences. A brotherhood was instantly formed. You guys brought all 14 of us to an area where we could forget the past for even just a little and have a normal life enjoying the paradise that the big man above created and not be judged. I cannot wait to have more of my brothers and sisters who have walked the unfortunate path come down to the Everglades so that we can share and emulate the amazing time that we had. I am looking forward to seeing everyone again and to help make this program become an even bigger success. We thank you all from deep inside…. “BZ

Participants and guides ready to hit the waters … Boat ramp, Flamingo, Everglades National Park

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Sgt Paris Winter shows off one of many redfish and snook she caught with Captain Andy Thompson … she asked “when can I come back?”

Everyone enjoyed the “swag bags” they received from our sponsors

The unsung heroes … this event would not have been possible without the dedication and support of our volunteers who behind the scenes made it all happen.

The “Backcountry Purple Heart/Disabled Veterans Slam III” will be held August 21-23, 2018 at Flamingo in Everglades National Park, for 30 active duty/retired wounded and disabled veterans, in order to assist in their medical recovery and rehabilitation. These participants will be coming together to form a cadre of comrades and share in an adventure they will remember for years to come.

A day on the water with comrades who share the scares of battle can only reinforce the gains of medical treatment for the mind, body, and spirit of those who sacrificed so much. You can help support this remarkable annual event and provide a-lifetime experience for a veteran who has made great sacrifices for our nation.