Gordon Rose, who hails from Sheridan, Wyoming, has been fly fishing and tying his own flies since he was 10 years old, and has been an avid fisherman and professional guide for most of his life. Earlier this month, Rose launched a program called Sheridan WYO Healing Waters. His program is a local offshoot of a national nonprofit program called Project Healing Waters, which is dedicated to helping disabled military veterans through fly fishing as a form of therapy.
As any fly fisherman knows, there are few things more relaxing and serene than getting out on the river and casting for several hours. So it makes sense that this classic outdoor pastime can be used as a unique form of therapy for injured veterans and soldiers suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.
Rose recently conducted a session at the Sheridan VA Medical Center, where he instructed nine veterans on fly tying. After providing each individual with supplies and a small tying vice, Rose showed his students how to tie an elk hair caddis fly. Many of Rose’s students served in Iraq and Afghanistan. None have previous fly fishing experience, but all are eager to learn.
“It’s about helping veterans live a fulfilling and contented life outside of combat,” Rose said. “It’s really neat working with these guys.”
Project Healing Waters offers a unique opportunity for recreational therapy, and when Rose heard about the program, he was immediately intrigued and felt that his home town of Sheridan would be a great place to launch a local program chapter. Using his own money for supplies and materials, Rose launched his program earlier this month, and has been pleased with the results so far.
“I didn’t know if any of them would be back for the second class,” Rose admitted. “But they were all back, plus a couple more, and they made dramatic improvement on their second fly. I think it’s such a terrific diversion that they dive right into it.”
Rose’s class includes three parts: fly-tying classes, fly-casting lessons, and finally fly-fishing outings in the Bighorn Mountains during the summer.
“The wonderful thing about fly-fishing is it can become such a passion, and it allows someone to involve themselves in nature without worrying about screwing up,” Rose said.
Sounds like a fantastic program. Fly fishermen and other individuals who are interested can find more information at projecthealingwaters.org.