The past year was a difficult one. Americans experienced loss in many different ways; loss of life, loss of friends and loved ones, loss of income, and loss of personal freedoms. More than any other time in recent history, perhaps, the turning of the calendar brings hope for a better future – a year that brings about a return to some of the normalcy that most have taken for granted in the past.
But for the shockingly high number of veterans returning from service to our nation with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other mental and physical wounds, 2021 will simply be another year of loss and struggle. There is no vaccine for PTSD. These wounded heroes need to find and receive help elsewhere.
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.
“Take a Vet Fishing was scheduled to host six events in 2021, including some new venues in Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota,” says Take a Vet Fishing and Operation Fishing Freedom Foundation Executive Director, Rich Belanger. “Unfortunately, due to the virus and related issues, we will need to cancel our first three events which would have occurred mid-May and early June. Planning is underway to replace those canceled events with smaller events that would still make a positive impact for our veterans. The future of the other three scheduled events will continue to be evaluated as conditions with the virus dictate,” Belanger continues. “We’ll be posting updates on all of this to our website at www.takeavetfishing.org.”
Similarly, the non-profit Operation Fishing Freedom Foundation is dedicated to documenting the lives of US Military Veterans through a unique television program. Belanger says the organization will be going through a rebranding process for the 2021 season. “Operation Outdoor Freedom Foundation will be the new name of the 501c3 organization,” he reports, but points out that while the name is changing, the mission remains the same. “Operation Outdoor Freedom is expanding upon the groundwork created by Operation Fishing Freedom to help bring healing to an even wider range of veterans suffering from PTSD,” Belanger says. “Our TV show will continue to document the heroic lives of our US Military veterans, but we will now have the ability to cast a wider path to recovery through camping, kayaking, and other healing outdoor activities.” Belanger says the show will not abandon its roots in fishing by any means. “The majority of our shows will still take place on the water, which is very therapeutic for our vets,” he says.
2021 episodes of Operation Fishing Freedom TV presented by Great Clips can be viewed beginning January 24 2021 on Discovery Channel, Discovery Go, Amazon Prime, NBC Sports Chicago, AT&T Texas, and a brand-new streaming fishing network to be announced within the next two weeks. Each episode of Operation Fishing Freedom TV features a different veteran from all eras of war and service. The stories are told through their eyes and their own words.
Belanger says there are numerous ways individuals can help support veterans through the important work of Operation Fishing Freedom. “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.”
Join the conversation on Facebook @operationfishingfreedom, @takeavetfishingnfp and Instagram @operationfishingfreedom, @takeavetfishing. Learn more at operationfishingfreedom.com and takeavetfishing.org.