Fishing is Therapy, that's the motto for Rifles to Rods. It's the foundation, the building block to our program and the tool to help veterans transition from military to civilian life, which for some is a lifelong battle. However, it isn't always the act of fishing that is the actual therapy. A lot of the time, it is the beautiful places that fishing takes you, like the rivers of Western Massachusetts, and the company you have with you. Being with other veterans, experiencing the same thing oftentimes helps improve the physical and mental well-being of veterans on our fishing trips. In the end, each veteran leaves feeling more positive and relaxed, allowing them to start fresh and more energized in the following days.
The hills of Western Massachusetts hold some amazing bodies of water that create the perfect atmosphere for fishing. In those hills lie a few rivers that we’ve made a part of our Fishing is Therapy program. The rivers act as a therapist, the constant flow of water, the sounds and sights can be mesmerizing and relaxing. Oftentimes, veterans fishing with us can be found staring off, soaking in all the beautiful things around them, which is one of the many aspects that help with our unconventional form of therapy. Another is being with other veterans, like minded individuals who have experienced similar situations.
Most of the veterans that join us on our trips don’t know the other participants, which can sometimes be intimidating, regardless of the individual. Nonetheless, veterans are resilient and are trained to adapt and overcome. As soon as our veterans meet others who have experienced similar things, they become best friends, sharing stories, joking, and poking fun with one another. Something that happens often in the military. Throughout the day you can physically see each veteran loosening up and becoming more and more relaxed.
Everyone who experiences one of our trips, leaves with an overall sense of well-being. It may not be recognized right away, but days later, we will often receive a phone call or text saying things like “I needed that”, “I’ve been going through a lot lately and fishing with you guys is exactly what I needed to get back on the right track”. It is often the little things that really matter most and comments like that truly shed light on why we do what we do.
Getting veterans together in the outdoors, with like minded individuals, creates a bond similar to that in the military. This is something that can be hard to describe, but when witnessed you can see that this program works and is helping veterans transition to civilian life, everyday. Fishing is Therapy, that’s our motto.