After leaving his role as a helicopter pilot in active duty for the US Army, Christopher Jeremiah opened Thunder Basin CrossFit Gym in Gillette, WY, where he offered lifetime memberships to veterans for a one-time $50 fee. Now working towards a nursing degree at Northwest College in Powell, WY, near his home in Gillette, Christopher Jeremiah supports the Trout Unlimited Healing Waters program for veterans.
The Trout Unlimited conservation organization program Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing sends volunteers to veterans’ hospitals across the US to spend time with veterans and teach them about fly fishing. In the summertime, the volunteers take the veterans out on the water to try it out. The intention is to help the veterans heal physically and emotionally through the ongoing learning and social connection the program provides. With programs in 46 states, over 7,000 veterans have taken in the outdoor experience of fly fishing.
Fly fishing has many physical and emotional health benefits. It involves standing and balancing on an uneven surface or even in the water, which can activate the smaller stabilizing muscles of the core and the back. Arms and shoulders must work while casting the lines, but wrists can stay mostly stationary. It’s accessible exercise for people with many disabilities since it’s mostly done in one spot. The focus required for the sport is excellent for cognitive health, and its sense of purpose can be an excellent way to boost self-esteem, especially while out in the fresh air. For all these reasons, fly fishing makes an excellent activity for veterans with disabilities, stress, or who may be experiencing PTSD.