We are thrilled to share a very special collection of images highlighting the healing, community, and life-changing gift that is Freedom Ranch for Heroes. You’ll find each of the 20 Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing trips separately highlighted in a beautiful slide show format below. Special thanks to Paula Krugerud for her tremendous generosity, amazing talents, and for embracing our cause and the disabled veterans we serve. You can view more of Paula’s incredible work by visiting her Facebook Page, Paula Krugerud Photography at https://www.facebook.com/PaulaKrugerud/
Each year between May and October, hundreds of disabled U.S. military veterans gather at Freedom Ranch for Heroes in Wise River, Montana to experience the therapeutic powers of fly fishing, to connect with their fellow disabled veterans, and to celebrate our freedom and the part they played in protecting it. This Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing national program is generously funded through the support of the Harbaugh Foundation, formed after the passing of George and Betty Harbaugh – as a former Air Force pilot George’s estate is now used to better the lives of others, especially those who fight every day to protect our freedoms – and the Stanley E. Hanson Foundation.
The partnership between Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing and Freedom Ranch for Heroes has proven to be a lifesaving gift for the disabled veterans served by PHWFF programs throughout the year. PHWFF is unique in that our programs are providing programming and classes on an on-going, long term basis in over 200 communities across the United States. Helping disabled veterans is not a one-time event and this unique partnership exemplifies that by offering support both year-round at home and during their special time in Montana’s Big Hole River Valley at Freedom Ranch.
During their ranch visits, these courageous heroes are able to have some fun, learn new skills, and spend quality time with their fellow disabled veterans. The unwavering and patriotic embrace of the Wise River community has brought hope, camaraderie, and recovery to those individuals who have served, and sacrificed, for our Nation. Thanks to the Wise River community and the Harbaugh Foundation these trips transcend fly fishing – they build relationships, community and camaraderie. It is through these powerful connections that so much healing occurs and this journey continues at home, strengthened and supported by their local PHWFF program.
To learn more about Freedom Ranch for Heroes and how you can help, click here OR you can purchase a bag of Freedom Ranch Coffee at http://www.bigcreekcoffeeroasters.com/freedomranch – $5 of the purchase price will be donated to our cause and help fund future trips for more disabled veterans to visit Freedom Ranch
“This trip was truly amazing!! A HUGE THANK YOU to all the generous volunteers, staff, and especially those who have funded such outings!!! Your generosity and genuine support for wounded and disabled veterans is truly making a positive impact in our lives! It was somewhat reminiscent of my time on active duty…spending time with other warriors who have chewed some of the same dirt; gone through some of the same hardships, both while serving and after discharge that creates a culture unmatched by any other, and can truly provide some healing! Thank you, again! I’ll cherish the memories”
“Freedom Ranch for Heroes is an amazing place. The Ranch provides everything to make your experience very enjoyable.”
“For me, the best aspect of my stay at Freedom Ranch was in getting quality time with real heroes and the outpouring of respect and appreciation for those heroes from the community of Wise River Montana. This is truly a special place.”
“Had a wonderful time connecting with other disabled vets that I found out were just like me! Fly fishing for the first time in Montana with the outstanding guides that we had was an unforgettable mind-blowing experience! Great time!”
“I hope every participant and volunteer takes the opportunity to visit Freedom Ranch if offered to them. It will transform your spirit and rekindle the adventurous child in each of you.”
“We’d like to thank The Harbaugh Foundation for making Freedom Ranch for Heroes a reality. Many said it was the trip of a lifetime! It’s like being at a five star fly fishing lodge. We were all amazed at how well everything is constructed and thought out down to the finest detail. Thanks to Rachel for making everyone feel at home, to Clint for keeping everyone safe on the water and Paula for taking such great pictures. The weather was fishy. Partly cloudy, full overcast from time to time mixed with a bit of rain and even dime size hail a few times. Getting to spend the first day wading was perfect to get us comfortable with the gear and ready for the floats. The guides were extremely knowledgeable and Matt’s “Silver Bullet” catches fish! We all made new friends in the group that we’ll keep in contact with for the rest of our lives.”
“As we all know, fly-fishing activities are the excuse we get together, but camaraderie is the real goal of getting together. The group really jelled together, stories and laughter were heard at every meal and gathering.”
“Freedom Ranch is a place that you will never forget. The views are amazing. The people, accommodations, food, and overall experience are top-notch. Friendships that will last a lifetime are formed almost immediately upon arrival and your branch of service does not matter. If you ever have a chance to go to Freedom Ranch, do not pass the opportunity up. Thank you to all who have made this the trip of a lifetime!”
“Words cannot express the appreciation the group had for Rachel and Paula during the five day visit to the Freedom Ranch for Heroes. A sincere Thank You to them and to the Wise River community for their past and future support of Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing and the Freedom Ranch For Heroes.”
“I will never forget this event nor the Vets or people I met there!”
“I have been on many multi day trips on the ocean and to lakes/streams. I would rank this trip as one of the best trips I have ever been on.”
“We were all amazed at how well everything is constructed and thought out down to the finest detail. Thanks to Rachel for making everyone feel at home, to Clint for keeping everyone safe on the water and Paula for taking such great pictures. Thanks to PHWFF for making all of this happen!”
“Being at Freedom Ranch was a surreal experience. The camaraderie from the other veterans and the incredible hospitality by the volunteers proved to be more beneficial than I ever thought possible. These things, coupled with the beauty that is Montana, allowed for a fresh perspective on life’s stressors. My rookie frustrations in attempting to master fly fishing came to an abrupt halt as I realized the healing properties of being outside with friends, standing in cold water, and watching faces light up when a big brown grabs a fly off the top. We saw beautiful landscape, ate wonderful food, hung out with great people, and even caught a few fish. Freedom Ranch has had a positive life-changing effect on who I am and words can’t begin to properly express my gratitude to Project Healing Waters and everyone that made it possible.”
“I haven’t slept this good in a very long time.”
“When that 19” brown trout took a big leap out of the water, all stress and anxiety immediately drained from my body!”
“I had three days of uninterrupted sleep with no intrusive thoughts or dreams. Thanks for three days of Freedom and a wonderful fishing adventure.” It was a wonderful learning experience. The Freedom Ranch staff was awesome!”
“It gives you hope, when, for a long time there was no hope.”
“The small-town hospitality, generosity and patriotism of Wise River were really touching and very much appreciated.”
“This is such an incredible trip, the scenery is awesome, the fishing is amazing, and all the volunteers are so helpful. I hope everyone in the PHWFF program has this same life-changing opportunity.”
“Our week was full of adventure, not only did it snow 10 inches on Tuesday evening but it also dropped down to a -2° on Wednesday evening which made for a slush and ice filled river on Thursday. This made for some really difficult fishing conditions but our group from south Texas handled it well! Fish were caught and there was even a few snow angels made in the freshly fallen snow. One of the greatest takeaways for me was how much this tiny town in this little valley fully embraces our veterans and this ranch, there is so much love, gratitude and the willingness to do whatever it takes to make this a trip of a lifetime. It’s just absolutely incredible. One can honestly say that you arrive in Wise River as strangers but you definitely leave as family.”
We’re looking forward to Season 3 at Freedom Ranch for Heroes! Our deepest thanks to the Wise River Community and everyone who makes this possible for our Nation’s disabled veterans.
Did you know that there’s a special coffee blend from Big Creek Coffee Roasters dedicated to Freedom Ranch? Each time you buy Freedom Ranch Coffee, $5 of the purchase price will be donated to Project Healing Waters – helping to fund future trips for more disabled veterans to visit Freedom Ranch. Freedom Ranch Coffee can be purchased by visiting our friends at Big Creek Coffee Roasters at http://www.bigcreekcoffeeroasters.com/freedomranch