Alan Bergman – Not all treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) takes place in medical and healthcare facilities. A rapidly growing program is successfully treating US armed forces veterans and active-duty military personnel with PTSD by getting them out on the water for kayak fishing.
The effort has been spearheaded by Heroes on the Water, a Texas-based not-for-profit organization, founded in 2007. Its mission is to “help warriors relax, rehabilitate and reintegrate through kayak fishing and the outdoors”. Now, with nearly 100 chapters across the country, the organization has recently increased its outreach to also treat first-responders with the same ecotherapy given to veterans.
Essentially, Heroes on the Water views kayak fishing as preventative medicine and an extremely effective form of therapy. Participants receive basic fishing and paddling instruction, angling clinics and paddling classes, given at different skill levels, from beginner through the most experienced paddlers. The organization believes that the effectiveness of the program is a direct result of engaging the wounded military personnel for the long-term, not one or two isolated events.
Statistics released by the organization state that over 38,000 warriors and family members have been served thus far. This has reduced the warriors’ overall stress by 56 percent, according to a study conducted by Troy University.
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