5 Reason Why Veterans Need To Be Fishing

Filed Under Brain Injury, Combat PTSD, Dogs, Fishing Therapy, Military, Nature, PTSD, Service Dogs, Tears, Tears of a Warrior | Comments Off on 5 Reason Why Veterans Need To Be Fishing

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Guest Blog by Jon Sutton, Content Manager for Outdoor Empire

 

Author: Travis Pike, Outdoor Empire

Veterans are a unique group of people who face a variety of unique challenges in their lives. As unique as veterans maybe they do share the ability to benefit from an activity as old as civilization. We call it fishing. Here are 5 reasons why Veterans need to get out there and fish more.

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Getting Outside

Something as simple as getting outside and in nature can be a major benefit to your psyche and even your body. Getting outside doesn’t just mean walking out of your home, it means actually getting out in nature.

First, you get better air in the countryside than the city. There is no smoke, smog, or ground level ozone to worry about. As a veteran, you may have been exposed to harsh chemicals, and of course burn pits. Fresh air can help reduce the symptoms of most chronic respiratory illnesses.

You’ll also get a healthy dose of sunshine. Sunshine provides you with a blast of vitamin D, a vitamin associated with bone health. The average adult is likely vitamin D deficient, something I learned from my VA Doctor. A little sunshine can go a long way to long lasting health. That being said, don’t forget the sunscreen, you know what they say about too much of a good thing.

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Getting Physical

PT it’s good for you and good for me. With almost 80% of the veteran population being obese a little PT can likely go a long way. Most people may think of fishing as sitting in a chair and drinking a beer, but they’d be wrong. There is a big difference in fishing and getting buzzed in a boat.

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When you’re fishing you can be involved in any number of strenuous activities, including wading through water, paddling a kayak, and or hiking to a premier fishing location. That’s just to get to you to where you start fishing, from there you start working the shoulder and arms by casting over and over.

Plus, once you get a fish the cardiovascular activity starts as you fight that big boy to the boat or the shore. Watch any fishermen catch a keeper, and look how he sweats and struggles. It may not be as bad a Platoon Sergeant Death Run at 5 a.m. but it’ll get you huffing and puffing.

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Relax a Little

Ah, greeting the great outdoors with a fishing pole in one hand a tackle box in the other is an amazing way to relax. Veterans on average face the stress of everyday life, and with a high percentage of veterans facing stress, depression, and anxiety the ability to relax is sacred. Heck, just talking on the phone with the VA is enough to drive you mad.

Fishing has shown to reduce cortisol, a hormone associated with stress by over 30% for up to a month. A study by the University of Maine showed fishing reduced anxiety, stress, fear, and guilt by a substantial amount for up to 3 weeks in combat veterans.

On top of everything fishing reduces, time in the sunshine has proven to release a chemical known as serotonin. The theory is that serotonin improves moods and triggers happy thoughts.

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Keeps You Sharp

Young veterans face higher rates of TBI than the average population, which can result in reduced levels of cognitive ability. Let’s not forget that the Vietnam generation has reached an advanced age and with age often comes reduced cognitive function.

Fishing provides stimulation to the brain that engages a wide variety of different senses and forces fishers to use reasoning, and make logical assumptions. Fishing also boosts self-esteem and confidence.

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Cause Fish are Delicious

Everyone loves good food, that’s true. This may not be specific to veterans because fish is delicious. Fish is also packed with protein and is low in calories and cholesterol. It’s also full of healthy fats, like Omega 3 acids that help with joint health. Any infantry veteran will tell you their joints suck, so they need all the help they can get.

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See the Outdoor Empire original article for all the 11 health benefits of fishing.

Guest Post by Sally Harper

Battling_PTSD_(4949341330)For many soldiers and veterans who return home after a war, PTSD is a scary proposition that can affect them. It is a mental health condition whose symptoms may include reliving traumatic events, flashbacks & nightmares, persistent fear, feelings of anger, horror & detachment and guilt. Inability to sleep, concentration issues, aggressiveness and self-destructive behavior are other symptoms of the condition. PTSD can also have devastating effects on victims, families and caregivers who live through the experiences of patients who are suffering.

Early detection is crucial in treating PTSD with standard remedies including psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and drug treatments. For patients who are not willing to discuss their trauma with a therapist, virtual reality-based therapy is also an option. The main aim is to keep their identities as soldiers, but steer away from the trauma of the war so that they can integrate into society easier and live normal lives. Stress management, exercise and good diets are complementary ways to cope with post-traumatic stress.

Take a look at this article for more information on the causes and symptoms of stress as well as how to control it.

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Two Quotes from Rumi:

(Rumi was a 13th-century poet of immense talent. His work highlights the power of literature in its ability to transcend time, language and geographic locations)

 

1)  Healing doesn’t mean the damage never existed. It means the damage no longer controls our lives.

 

2) The wound is the place where the light enters you.

 

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By Janet J. Seahorn, Ph.D.

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Once upon a time there was a very young boy who lived an incredibly difficult childhood. He was the oldest son of a family of five children – two younger sisters, one brother and a step brother. At eleven years old he became homeless, kicked out of his family by an abusive father. Drinking and beatings by his dad were endured on a regular basis.  For five years he lived on the streets until he was old enough to join the army (1956-1965).  Being of Navaho Indian decent, Vince the Prince was a fledgling warrior, and warriors always fight with perseverance and courage.

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However, the trauma of his early childhood experiences followed him into the military. He was always in trouble, and believed he would get shot, knifed, or killed in prison. Life was pretty hopeless. Anger often consumed him, a normal coping mechanism many children of abuse use to mask their pain and unpredictable daily circumstances. But, Vince the Prince was a survivor, often called a “smart ass”. Being tough kept him alive, and being enraged kept him “feeling”.

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How does a person ever survive such a life? According to Vince the Prince in 1970 he found faith in the spirit of the Lord, and this discovery saved him. Talking with him was pretty amazing as he could quote scriptures from the Bible better than most clergy. His personal commitment to the Lord handed him the hope that he lacked in his younger years and offered him a purpose in how he would live the rest of his life. In 1973 Vince was ordained as a street Evangelist.  His parishioners were those confined to the jails and prisons in Chicago. He worked with the street people offering kindness, optimism, and faith. Having this new mission made him think of others before himself. He was no longer in the survivor mode, but in a vocation of serving those who, like him in his early years, were crushed by life experiences far beyond the control of a young boy. In 1983 he even completed his GED after having only a fifth grade education.  Yep, pretty darn remarkable.

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I asked him at the end of one of our conversations “What has been your greatest lesson?”  His response, “No matter who or what you are, in God’s eyes you are precious.” And, ‘When all else fails turn to Jesus.”

Vince the Prince continues to work with young teens, many who are homeless like he was in his early years. Who better to understand their struggles, their fears, and their despair? Who better to provide a sense that no matter how dire your circumstances may seem there is always hope and that hope can lead to a miraculous future. Living life with purpose and a wicked sense of humor make Vince the Prince a very special human, indeed.

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(I recently spent a week with Vince at a remote fishing camp in Canada called Rushing Wind. Tony and I were invited to work with veterans who have experienced the effects of combat and are finding ways to heal from the wounds of war.)

 

 

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Listen peacefully to the wild call of the Loon.

 

 

 

 

by Janet J. Seahorn, Ph.D

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It is easy to see what courage looks like.  We observe it in the acts of those who, in spite of intense danger or inconceivable suffering, or endless determination, an individual continues to live on. To move forward.  We see it in the movies where it makes us feel safe and in control in events we know we may never survive.

But what does courage sound like? Does it reveal itself in words, in songs, in other types of media?  Perhaps real courage sounds like Silence.  The silence of grief that cannot be expressed in words.  The silence of a heart being shattered.  The silence of hidden tears and silent screams.

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And what does courage feel like?  It may be different for every person, yet, individually it contains some singular similarities. Our feelings, much like hearing, is silent beyond ourselves.  Emotions, an element of feelings, come at anytime, day or night.  It cannot be quantified, perhaps because we may not be able to find a beginning or end in its infinitesimal existence.  You see, feelings go beyond emotions. They are deeper, often jumbled together with anger, love, gratitude and sadness.  We feel what we feel.  Attempting to put feelings into words can be exhausting, exasperating, and mostly ineffective.

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Courage, like feelings and hearing is also Silent. It is very much present. There is both a sweetness and bitterness in courage. The sweetness of living through a reality that many may never experience.  The bitterness resulting from that very same experience.  It is not about the “why me”, “how come”, or “what ifs” of suffering. Simply having the courage to accept the experience for what it is— an experience that changes a person from the before to the now – and beyond.

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We spend too much time trying to define/identify courage. Most results are superficial at best.  For if, as I believe, courage is found only in the Silence… the empty spaces between the noise and what is seen, heard, and felt.  We often miss or mistakenly identify courage.  Its potential seed lives in most of us, yet, it can only be germinated when or if the time presents itself.  For some of you reading this piece may think, “What the heck is she rambling about?”  For others, those who have lived the courage, you may only nod your head and silently say “true”.

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“Mom Told Me You Are a Hero”

    -Constance Gibbons

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            Who didn’t like to use crayons and a coloring book as a child?  I remember spending hours trying to use my box of many colored crayons to make the pages of my special book alive with various shades of whatever I thought the picture called for at the time. It never seemed to matter what the theme of the coloring book was about. The important thing was the simple act of making something of my own creation entertaining and exciting. When I was sad it took my mind off my childhood troubles… which sometimes were pretty significant for a young mind to understand. When I was tired, it gave me a way to stay occupied and calm.

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It has been a long time since I’ve thought about the benefits of my early years of coloring. Then a friend told me about a children’s book she was writing to help young individuals process the reality of a parent serving in the military. What made this particular project so interesting was that it included a coloring book with crayons that went along with the original book.  Gosh, I only wish I had thought of such a brilliant way to reach young minds dealing with the unique situation of having their moms or dads away for long periods of time and sometimes on numerous deployments.

The title of the book is Mom Told Me You Are a Hero by author, Constance Gibbons. There is a hard copy edition along with a coloring book with the same text. In my work, constantly studying brain development and the importance of early literacy, having both options is brilliant.  The child can have the hard copy read to him/her, and then have the opportunity to color the pictures exactly as he/she desires. By doing the coloring, the child will be looking at some of the words in the text. The words explain the complex topic of war, yet, not in a scary manner. It describes how veterans come in all ages, sizes, shapes, colors, and genders. There are even examples of injuries a veteran may endure.  It is very well written at an appropriate developmental level for children two years and above.

If you would like more information about these delightful and helpful books you may contact the author at cogconnexion@gmail.com

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