Heroes on the Water heals war wounds

When you think of fishing and kayaking, you probably do not think of therapy. But there is a group of veterans who call it triple therapy, which covers physical, occupational, and mental therapy, all by kayaking.

Stefani McCowan is an Iraq veteran. She came back from Iraq with more than just battle wounds.

“I went through a lot of combat trauma, a lot of personal issues and a lot of things that really kind of stopped me living my life,” said McCowan.

She started going to Heroes on the Water four weeks ago. In just a month’s time, she has noticed a drastic change.

“It really helped me with my self esteem and feeling great about who I am,” said McCowan.

Heroes on the Water takes veterans out onto the water in kayaks and with fishing poles to relax.

It gives them the chance to decompress from the stresses of combat and rehabilitation.

“This starts to get them back in the community and get around vets and realize that they’re not alone and that they’re out there and there’s other guys and gals out there dealing with the same stuff that they are,” said Lyle Babcock, Kansas coordinator for Heroes on the Water.

These veterans are returning with post traumatic stress disorder, other traumatic brain injuries, or physical disabilities. And they are struggling.

“I’ve seen growth with some of these soldiers, they down here, they’ve got a hoodie on, they’ve got sunglasses, they don’t want to be, they’re not used to being around people. You bring em out on a few outings and all of a sudden, they take the sweatshirt off and hang it on a tree,” said Babcock.

And who knew something as simple as fishing could make such a difference?

“I came out, and instantly its like I’m calm again. Once I get out here on a lake and I see these great people, I’m ok,” said McCowan.

The Heroes on the Water Kansas Chapter just started in May.

For more information: https://www.facebook.com/HOWKansasChapter or http://heroesonthewater.org/

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