Texas Connects Us: Fishing Therapy for Veterans at Heroes on the Water - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
Texas Connects Us

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Texas Connects Us: Fishing Therapy for Veterans at Heroes on the Water

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Sitting on the calm waters of a Texas lake can help heal the soul. There's a growing organization called Heroes on the Water that's helping veterans do just that. (Published Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016)

    Sitting on the calm waters of a Texas lake can help heal the soul. There's a growing organization, which was founded in Texas, that is helping veterans do just that.

    "It's very peaceful, but also brings back good memories like coming here to Burger Lake, especially," said Jeremiah Dee.

    Unloading his kayak, he's getting ready to revisit countless happy memories.

    "I mean, some of the biggest fish I've caught in my life have been at this lake," said Dee.

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    It's a place of peace. It's a place of solitude.

    "All the noise from the outside world just kind of disappears," said Dee. "It's just you with your own thoughts."

    But that hasn't always been a good thing.

    "Before fishing, it was just a lot of anxiety," said Dee.

    Dee served in the Army for 10 years, and it was when he came home from Iraq that his family learned something was wrong.

    "One day I just went into work and I just couldn't handle it anymore, and then I wound up at the V.A. in Dallas," said Dee.

    He said he was diagnosed with PTSD.

    He said if he was triggered by stress, he could basically black out and he wouldn't remember a thing. He said there were times he gave money away, loaned his equipment to people, and didn't remember any of it.

    But when he found Heroes on the Water, a nonprofit that organizes fishing events at no cost to veterans, he said it helped him work on focusing.

    "Because my wife would be like, 'If you want to go out on an outing by yourself, you need to show me that you're doing your coping skills, you're making sure that everything works and you're not going to wind up 100 miles from where you're supposed to be,'" Dee said.

    There was also a refreshing new concern to focus on. "Probably a concern about tipping over," Dee said, with a laugh, while sitting in his kayak on the lake.

    Getting him out of his home and out on the water reminded him that there are things to look forward to.

    "I call it the three Fs: faith, family and fishing. It really kind of helped push me through a lot of dark times, for sure," he said.

    Now he volunteers and sees first-hand how other veterans are changed on the water by getting a booster shot of calm.

    "I think it's the peace. I mean, I think it's really like the beauty and peace out here," said Dee. "I mean, you're in God's great creation and fishing."

    Dee said he wants veterans to know that help is out there if they need it.

    Heroes on the Water now has two chapters in DFW – one in Dallas and a new one in Fort Worth.

    The Fort Worth chapter has an event scheduled at Thorp Spring Park, Saturday, Dec. 3. For more information, visit their Facebook page for the event.

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