PARK FALLS, Wis. – Fishing means different things to different people, but it’s an undisputed stress-reliever for most – a way to give the mind a break from life’s day-to-day struggles and challenges. Fishing can be so therapeutic, in fact, It’s been proven to deliver short-term relief and even long-term healing to many people suffering from depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress. Fishing has also been shown to promote some forms of physical healing.
Take a Vet Fishing co-founder, Jay Garstecki, is a member of the St. Croix Rod Pro Staff. He says while fishing in itself can definitely be a powerful healing tool, the therapeutic benefits are multiplied when people who share similar kinds of traumatic experiences – like our nation’s Veterans – can be brought together through fishing in a safe space to talk about what they’ve been though.
“Our slogan is ‘A Day of Giving Back’ and these outings are at the core of our mission,” says Garstecki. “When our brave service men and women return from overseas, a shockingly high number of them bring back injuries – both physical and mental wounds – and they often have a difficult time adjusting back into the ‘real world’. These Heroes have given so much of themselves for our freedom. As a nation, we fall short in showing them our appreciation. Reaching out and offering a thank you with a handshake is the very least we can do. At Take a Vet Fishing, we bring our veterans together and treat them to a full day of peaceful fishing, food, fun, and camaraderie.”
St. Croix Pro-Staffer, Andy Hendrickson, enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2000 and received severe shrapnel wounds to his neck and back from an Iraqi mortar in January of 2004. When he came home to Wisconsin after completing his service, the Purple Heart recipient returned to fishing, began guiding, and started volunteering his services and expertise in support of numerous Veteran organizations and events.
“Fishing really is a great way to help bring healing to our Veterans, and that’s why there are so many events that highlight taking veterans fishing,” Hendrickson says. “I love giving back to our Veterans through these events. A couple of the regular events I volunteer for are both hosted in Eagle River, Wisconsin. The Wounded Warriors in Action Eagle River Musky Chal-Lunge held every September in Eagle River brings in 10 Purple Heart recipients from around the country for a few days of musky fishing and relaxation. The other event is in October and is hosted by Take a Vet Fishing, where any veterans are welcome to sign up for a day of fishing the species of their choice.”
Special American-made rods to support real American heroes
Beginning Veteran’s Day, Saturday, Nov. 11, the St. Croix family is asking for help from the fishing community in raising a total of $80,000 to support our veterans through the healing work of Take a Vet Fishing and Wounded Warriors in Action. A fixed quantity of 1,000 Limited-Edition St. Croix Premier rods – the number-one-selling American-made fishing rod series – will be offered for sale at stcroixrods.com. These 7’ medium-light and medium power, fast action spinning rods wear the Take a Vet Fishing and Wounded Warriors in Action logos and will sell for $200. These high-performance multi-species fishing rods are a perfect fit to any angler’s arsenal and are sure to be a treasured gift for any Veteran in your life. Most importantly, your purchase of one or more of these special rods will help St. Croix complete its mission of donating $40,000 each to Wounded Warriors in Action and Take a Vet Fishing.