Jim Dolan calls himself a born and raised redneck bass fisherman. He started a nonprofit in north Texas called Heroes on the Water as a way to give back to the military men and women that have given so much to our country. Heroes on the Water serves the U.S. Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard.
“We take them out kayak fishing, which has turned out to be incredibly therapeutic,” said President of Heroes on the Water Jim Dolan. “We had no idea what we were doing and how therapeutic it would be for the guys that are coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan. About our fourth outing we found out that what we were doing was more than just taking guys fishing. We saw some changes in people that were pretty amazing.”
“It means a lot just because it shows that people care about us,” said U.S. Army Specialist Juan Carlos Hernandez.
Hernandez has been kayak fishing for almost six months. In October 2009, he lost his right leg while serving in Afghanistan. His helicopter was hit by a rocket propelled grenade. The explosion and shrapnel destroyed his leg. There was no choice but to amputate.
“It’s one of those things that you’ll never forget,” said Hernandez. “It will be with you for the rest of your life.”
Hernandez says that being on the water and focusing on fishing, helps take his mind off his injury.
“It feels like you release a lot of stress just sitting out there especially when it gets really quiet and you’re actually catching fish,” said Hernandez. “It’s pretty fun.”
“There’s a lot of schools of thought out there, that putting someone out there by themselves, where they’re responsible for themselves has really helped them out and really helped folks out and reintegrate into society,” said Dolan.
This program has sparked interest across the country. There are currently 35 other chapters started by people just like Dolan who hope to transform the lives of these American heroes.
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