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Project Healing Waters uses fly fishing to help veterans

12:39 AM, Jul 14, 2013   |    comments
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The Knoxville chapter of Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing held its first outing on the Clinch River.

(WBIR-Andersonville) A program, relatively new to Knoxville, is helping rehabilitate wounded and disabled veterans through fly fishing.

The Knoxville chapter of Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF) held its first outing on the water on Saturday morning.

On the Clinch River, Retired Army Captain Mark Brogan learned how to fly fish.

"I served in the US Army, Iraq. I was injured in 2006 by a suicide bomber that walked up behind me on a foot patrol. I had a severe traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, near amputation of my arm," Brogan recalled.

He went on to say about fishing for trout, "It has been very therapeutic."

PHWFF started in 2005, but a chapter formed in Knoxville just last Fall.

"You get on the river and blood pressure goes down 10 points within 10 or 15 minutes and I spend as much time out here as I can," said Steve Brown, who volunteered for the outing.

Brown is a part of the Clinch River Chapter of Trout Unlimited, the partner organization for PHWFF.

Trout Unlimited provided guides to help first-time anglers.

"All wounded and disabled veterans don't necessarily look wounded or disabled and they may have scars that we can't see. And just to have someone mentor them and talk to them or listen to them, I think is very helpful," said Steve Thompson, founder of PHWFF in Knoxville.

"For me it's just being outdoors. I like being outdoors in general and just being in the river, the sounds of the river, the fish, the challenge. It stimulates the mind also. It keeps you going," said Robert Scher, with the U.S. Navy.

Scher is visiting a friend but plans to find a chapter of PHWFF when he is back in Norfolk, Va.

The next fly fishing outing will take place in August on Norton Creek.

Veterans interested in joining PHWFF can contact Thompson at stevethefishingguy@gmail.com or call (865) 773-3343.

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