Project Healing Waters Helps Vets

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LACKAWANNA STATE PARK — A group of veterans stood on a lake shore in Lackawanna County Wednesday learning how to fly fish but they gained a lot more than that through something called Project Healing Waters.

There’s a well-known saying that says “teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” A group of men at Lackawanna State Park are learning to fish because many of them have seen a lifetime’s worth of violence and sacrifice.

Veterans from all over northeastern Pennsylvania cast lines around Lackawanna Lake, taking part in Project Healing Waters.

Frank Vols of Avoca is a Vietnam vet.  He says it’s healing but also a long-awaited sign of appreciation.

“Now people are treating us a lot better, people are shaking our hands, they’re taking us fishing.  We meet at the hospital and all that, and it’s amazing how people appreciate what we’ve done.”

The group of vets from all different wars meets each month to learn the sport of fly fishing. It’s meant to be therapeutic, both physically and mentally.

“Very peaceful, especially around the water, you have a goal to catch the fish. Casting is a lot of fun, it keeps you interested, it keeps you focused,” said John Mark Miller, U.S. Air Force retired.

This month, the vets got a visit from antique model a cars too, got to sit and chat over barbeque, all while getting tips on their casting from another Vietnam vet.

“I tell the guys it’s an enjoyable relaxing pastime. If the fish aren’t biting that’s a good time, too because you get a chance to clear your head,” said John Stegura, Project Healing Waters volunteer.

The monthly meetings include a lesson. The hope is that the guys continue fly fishing on their own but the vets say being with other vets is sometimes the best part.

“Being with the people here who have been there and have seen what war is like and all that, it lets you let it out and it lets you also appreciate the sacrifice we made to help save the world,” said Vols.

And they say that’s priceless, whether the fish bite or not.