In 2017, after purchasing a kayak and taking up kayak fishing as a hobby, I found out about an amazing organization called Heroes on the Water, which takes veterans and first responders on free kayak fishing outings as a form of ecotherapy.
Because I believe in using my talents to help others, I decided to start supporting the Roanoke Valley Chapter of that organization, which by coincidence had just started earlier that year. My business became a sponsor of the chapter, and I became a volunteer to help with their marketing efforts.
Read on below to find out more about the mission of Heroes on the Water and what myself and Redpoint Marketing Consultants are doing to support them.
Heroes on the Water was started in 2007 during the height of the U.S. military involvement in the Iraq War and in Afghanistan. Many veterans of these conflicts were returning home with both physical injuries and PTSD.
In fact, over 300,000 veterans have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, over 320,000 have Traumatic Brain Injury, and over 31,000 have visible wounds, according to a 2009 Rand study.
Veterans of the Global War on Terror have served an average of 45 months in combat zones compared to 15 months during the Vietnam War and 7 months in World War II, making it even harder on their families.
The idea behind HOW is to give these veterans a way to connect with other people with similar experiences while learning a new hobby–kayak fishing–in a relaxing natural setting. It’s a form of ecotherapy, which has many well-documented benefits including a reduction in stress, depression, and anxiety.
The outings organized by a HOW chapter typically are one-day events, although some are overnight events. All veterans, first responders, and their families are welcome to participate.
All kayaks, fishing gear, food, and other supplies are provided to participants free of charge, although they are welcome to bring their own gear if they have it.
Typically, participants will meet in the morning at a boat launch on a local river or lake for a safety briefing. If they are new to kayaking or fishing, they will then be paired up with a volunteer instructor who will help them as necessary throughout the day.
The entire group will then launch their kayaks and head out to an area to fish (in the case of a lake), or begin a float trip (in the case of a river). The group will usually stay in the same general area, but not so close together that they get in each other’s way.
The events usually end with everyone sharing a picnic lunch or dinner at a local park next to whatever body of water they were fishing in.
The video below, produced by Redpoint Marketing Consultants, is a highlight video from the 2018 season-opening overnight event for the Roanoke Valley Chapter (held at Smith Mountain Lake State Park).
Redpoint Marketing Consultants support the Roanoke Valley Chapter of Heroes on the Water in three ways:
In addition to assisting the local chapter of HOW, I also participated in a benefit kayak fishing tournament sponsored by YakAttack that raised money for the national organization. The video below contains highlights of that tournament, where I was lucky enough to catch my personal best largemouth bass (weighing in at just over 3 lbs, 18 inches).
If you’re interested in supporting the Roanoke Valley Chapter of Heroes on the Water, or if you are a veteran or a first responder who would like to attend on of the events, you can contact us for more information on how you can get involved.
If you are living in a different part of the country and would like to find out if there is a chapter of HOW in your area, click here to search for the nearest chapter.