Even as COVID-19 loosens its grip, Americans doing their best to enjoy a return to pre-pandemic normalcy are being hit with all-new threats. Inflation is at a 40-year high and fears surrounding America’s role in an escalating Eurasian war are real.
Life’s challenges will always keep coming, and while a lot of people are well equipped to face them head on, the shockingly high number of veterans returning from service to our nation with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other mental and physical wounds aren’t as fortunate. They need help – help coping, help adjusting, help staying positive, and help healing.
It’s been proven that fishing – through mental relaxation, low-impact exercise and social camaraderie – can help alleviate the effects of PTSD. Take a Vet Fishing is a registered 501 (c) (3) non-profit charitable organization, created in 2011 to provide emotional support and rehabilitation to those who serve our great nation every day. The mission is simple, to show these men and women how much they mean to us and support them and their families emotionally with fishing outings and trips.
Similarly, the newly rebranded non-profit Operation Healing Heroes Foundation (formerly Operation Outdoor Freedom Foundation) is dedicated to documenting the lives of US Military Veterans through a unique television program. Take a Vet Fishing and Operation Healing Heroes Foundation Executive Director, Rich Belanger, says the organization is going through a rebranding process. “Formerly the Operation Outdoor Freedom Foundation, Operation Healing Heroes Foundation will be the new name of the new 501c3 organization moving forward as of April, 2022,” he reports, “but our mission remains the same. Operation Healing Heroes is expanding upon the groundwork created by Operation Outdoor Freedom to help bring healing to an even wider range of veterans and Gold Star Families suffering from PTSD,” Belanger says. “Our TV show will continue to document the heroic lives of our US Military veterans, but we’re opening more doors to recovery through camping, kayaking, and other healing outdoor activities, as well as providing support for other treatments.”
Both Take a Vet Fishing and Operation Healing Heroes exist for the sole purpose of improving the lives and health of our nation’s heroes. Since 2015, the organizations have combined to treat nearly 1,000 U.S. Veterans from all eras of service to high-quality outdoors experiences intended to promote psychological healing; taken over 500 children of fallen soldiers fishing; and documented the heroic stories of over 50 Veterans on their Operation: Outdoor Freedom Foundation television show on Discovery Channel and other regional and national networks. Additionally, Take a Vet Fishing and Operation Outdoor Freedom have arranged and paid for PTSD treatment for over 100 individual Veterans since 2019.
Belanger says Take a Vet Fishing will host nine events for veterans in 2022 in Florida, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, and that Season 7 of Operation Healing Heroes TVpresented by Great Clips will begin filming in April, 2022.
There are numerous ways individuals can help support veterans through the important work of Operation Healing Heroes. “Currently there are multiple opportunities to support the organization through our website, and we have additional creative ways for people to get involved in our mission. Any donation, regardless of the amount, goes a long way towards our goal of helping our nation’s heroes.”
Primary supporting partners of Operation Healing Heroes and Take a Vet Fishing include Allen J Lynch Medal of Honor Veterans Foundation, Great Clips, Yontz Valor Foundation, Recon Boats, St. Croix Rod, Power-Pole, RCIS, Temple Bay Lodge, T-H Marine, Winnebago Industries, Winnebago Industries Foundation, Grizzly Coolers, WileyX Sunglasses, and FVP Motor Parts.