Once a quarter the Warrior Transition Battalion (WTB), Joint Base Lewis-McChord, conducts a briefing for wounded, ill, and injured soldiers in transition to civilian life to inform them of what assistance is available when they hang up their boots for the last time.
Due to past positive feedback the WTB has received from their soldiers that have joined the Ft. Lewis Program, they have started to include us as part of the briefing.
Our Program Lead provides a 10 minute presentation which includes Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing’s mission statement, what we do, why, and specialized gear. We end the briefing with an invitation to attend a mini fly-tying clinic. Mini because we’re only introducing fly tying.
On the day of the clinic, we once again go over how fly tying can help the wounded warrior, especially for those unseen injuries. We always tie a Woolly Bugger for a couple reasons; generally, it’s the first fly everyone learns to tie, uses many of the fundamentals required for fly tying, and it just plain catches fish!
We use an instructional technique very familiar to active service members, Explanation and Demonstration, Practical Application, & Full Combat Speed. The soldiers normally start out a little apprehensive as they watch material being placed on the hook, using the tools, and finishing with a whip finisher. However, once they move into the practical application phase the world fades away, they’re focused on the fly, concentrating on their technique, and before they realize it an hour has passed. They weren’t thinking of their disability, medication side-effects, pain, or anxiety about their future. Fly Tying with Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing sells itself!
We close the clinic with reinforcing what we presented in the briefing, what they experienced in the clinic, a short Q&A, and provide them information on how to join Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing.