Hey, Project Healing Waters! It’s me, Jan Bradbury again. (You know, Chuck’s wife) It’s been a while, and I thought I’d check in and give you an update on Chuck and his Project Healing Water experience.
I know I told you how wonderfully surprised we were that Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing did everything they said, and more. They turned out to be the real deal, among a lot of less than stellar programs. I let you know how grateful we both are for the immediate benefits for Chuck, aside from the obvious of getting to go fishing. A lot.
What I would like to tell you this year is how grateful I am that the benefits of Project Healing Waters, Greater Kansas City continue, and gain momentum in my husband’s life. I have come to know several of the guys in this group, and see good things happening with them, as well. It’s a wonderful thing to behold.
Chuck is a Vietnam combat veteran, a former door gunner on a Huey, and was wound a little tight, and withdrawn. As we quietly celebrate his homecoming exactly 45 years ago today, and reflect on all that has meant to him over the years, and how all that has affected him over the years, I can honestly say, with all conviction, that Project Healing Waters has effected more positive, lasting changes in my husband than any other program, ever.
He is so much calmer that now it’s possible for his psych meds for PTSD to be reduced. And it’s not just the effect of the meds, it’s a calmness that is pervasive, through and through. Calmness that goes from head, to hands, to heart. He rests well, he is nowhere nearly as restless, and as a result there is more calm, a restfulness in our home, our marriage, our life together. It also shows in the friendships he has made with other PHWFF guys.
That alone is worth its weight in gold. Friendships. Plural. The relaxed camaraderie, the empathetic support that only a veteran can give to another veteran. Chuck has become comfortable with having a few close friends-a big deal for us. I know, I always say “us”, because what affects him certainly affects me.
A new facet of his growth in PHWFF is that now, he’s one of the “old guys,” and helps the “new guys.” Every time I see him helping another vet, just as everyone in PHWFF has helped him, I am deeply affected. It’s a wonderful thing.
Chuck was privileged to go to the Mossy Creek Invitational last spring. I was so proud of him! What an honor, and he felt that honor deeply. He not only had a trip whose memories would last a lifetime, he made friends. Friends he remains in contact with to this day. As a matter of fact, I just sent off a gift of flies he tied for one of them. A first! The Mossy Creek Venue was so very beautiful, so perfectly orchestrated, and every chosen veteran had to feel like he was the luckiest guy in the world. I know mine did. His roommate Manford Aponte from Alaska, Lance Trenary and his daughter Elizabeth of Golden Corral, who made every minute of every day special for him-people like these are only found in PHWFF, from our experience!
As if Mossy Creek was not enough-Chuck and his good friend Kevin Gabert were selected to go to Ketchikan, Alaska to Healing Towers through Garry Morfit. The hospitality shown by Garry and also of Gary and Virginia of Healing Waterfalls, was legend. A lifetime dream to go to Alaska was not only met, but far surpassed as every day unfolded with a new adventure. I could never have given him that, no matter how much I wanted to. And without PHWFF, it would never have happened. Chuck returned from Alaska with a deeper conviction of just how great our God is, to create such magnificence and beauty for mere man to experience.
Some of these guys, especially the Vietnam Veterans, have had so little happen that makes them feel significant, special and worthy. This year, PHWFF accomplished that for Chuck. Mere words cannot express the gratitude I feel towards PHWFF.
While there are obvious, tangible benefits for PHWFF participants, it’s the invisible ones I see most. I don’t know what the magic of the formula is, but I hope you never change it. Too many vets have such need for this program, whether they realize it or not. They may come on board for the fishing-but I will guarantee their fishing skills are not what will show the most improvement.”