Announcements & Press
Dispatches from Atz Kilcher
In The News
PHW Spotlight
Press Releases
By Location
Georgia-South Carolina
National Capital
New England
New Jersey
New York-New Jersey
Northern New York
Rocky Mountain Northeast
Rocky Mountain Northwest
Rocky Mountain South
South Central
Southern New York
The Heartland
West Virginia
By Event
2018 2-Fly
Broadmoor Invitational
Freedom Ranch for Heroes
Healing Saturday
Hike to Heal Veterans
Holy Waters
Mossy Creek Invitational
Phil Johnson Exceptional Leadership Award

The PHW Spotlight is our way of shining a bright light on those members of our PHW family whose accomplishments and contributions inspire us all. 

These individuals, and their stories, are an essential part of the healing journey happening for Veterans across the country. Project Healing Waters transcends fly fishing and these Spotlights are a glimpse into what is happening throughout our programs. We are honored to share these with you each week.

We speak often on the power of camaraderie and connectedness in the healing process. So we’re delighted for a two-part Spotlight showcasing a prime example of this bond between a Veteran and volunteer (and fellow Veteran) from our Montrose, CO Program. Rather than the usual Q&A, we’ve included a heartfelt message from Mikael that encompasses exactly why we do what we do, and why rod-building is one of the pillars of our organizational programming. Read close enough and you’ll find a Father’s Day message snuck in there as well, just in time. Tune in next week for the second part on volunteer Robert Day.

Mikael Madsen – U.S. Army Veteran

Project Healing Waters Program:

Montrose, Colorado

Dear Healing Waters,

I hope this letter finds you in the best of spirits. The thrill of life often takes surprising forms, and in my case, it has materialized in the crafting of bamboo rods and the art of fly fishing. The joy in such a venture is manifold. I’ve spent many a splendid afternoon in the company of Rob Day, crafting and shaping a fine rod out of raw bamboo.

Rob is a great teacher indeed. His patience, knowledge and methodical approach not only made the learning process enjoyable but also built a sense of reverence for the craft in me. The process, as you may know, requires careful attention to detail, patience, and a degree of artistic flair. The smell of bamboo shavings, the feel of the precise tools in my hand, the meticulous techniques, all contribute to a delightful experience that transcends ordinary pastimes.

The most enchanting part of this endeavor, however, is the application of the crafted tool in the serene surroundings of POCO-CHU-PUK pond, nestled close to my home in Ridgway, Colorado. Fly fishing has been more than just a sport to me. The calm it instills is therapeutic, the sense of achievement, transformative. I remember the day I caught my first trout using the bamboo rod I built. It was a thrill like no other. The feeling of accomplishment and joy was heightened by the fact that I was using a tool built with my own hands, crafted with patience and care.

This journey has been a transformative one for me, especially in dealing with my PTSD as a disabled veteran. The process of crafting a bamboo rod, the tranquility of fly fishing, and the victories in each catch are my own forms of therapy, healing me in ways traditional medicine couldn’t. It is a respite from my typical solitary existence and a welcome diversion that offers not just a physical activity but also an engaging and rewarding mental exercise.

Every day offers an opportunity to learn, to grow, and to explore the outdoors. It’s an education far removed from textbooks and classrooms, one that teaches patience, precision, and the rewarding virtue of hard work. I have begun to tie flies, opening up another realm of this fascinating world for me to explore.

The excitement is contagious, and I’ve seen it in my daughter’s eyes when I recently bought a tent and a sleeping bag for our upcoming fishing trip on Father’s Day. The prospect of passing on the knowledge and sharing these moments with her makes the journey even more meaningful.

To be able to find solace and happiness in the outdoors, in the companionship of friends, and in the art of creating and using a bamboo rod, has been nothing short of a miracle for me. This program, more than anything, has given me something to look forward to, a purpose, a newfound joy in life.

I hope you find as much happiness in your fly fishing journey as I have found in mine. Here’s to the joy of creating, exploring, and bonding over bamboo rods and a shared love for nature.

Best regards,

Mikael Madsen

The PHW Spotlight will publish each Friday morning on Learn more about this inspiring series HERE

Latest News