Fishing Warriors Greater Pine Island began in late 2021 as a satellite group, said Vietnamese Navy veteran Eugene Breaux, the organization’s founder (501©3 pending). After tremendous growth, he and Mark Cargill decided to form their own band.
“We started as a small fishing group with 4 people and two people gave up, one person couldn’t walk and then I ended up with one person. He and I decided to go out and recruit new members and boaters to take us fishing and it all grew from there. said Breaux.
The group’s plan, Breaux explained, was to get disabled veterans out of their homes, where they could be alone brooding over the wounds of war. Various disabilities often lead to suicide — statistically 22 a day for veterans, he said, and they work hard to eliminate that number whenever possible.
“We do this by offering fishing trips and experiences such as kayaking, fly tying and custom rod building. This is designed to help participants cope with the effects of PTSD, traumatic brain injury, and other disabilities and war injuries. Not only am I helping to heal my brothers, but I am healing myself at the same time. said Breaux.
Currently, the group has no World War II veterans, Breaux said, reporting that most veterans in that group recover after serving in Vietnam, as it did, or in the Gulf War. Breaux is able to find joy, he said, in stepping out of the house with his brothers, as he often battles his own feelings of post-war depression or anxiety.
“I go out with them on the water – a lot of them have never fished before or are just rusty. Teach them how to catch fish and see the joy of catching a nice big trout or rockfish, well, it gives us all joy, even the captains who take them out, and the boaters, the other mates in the group – it’s a camaraderie with a lot of camaraderie. said Breaux.
He went on to say that he had been made aware of studies which have shown that water activities help reduce the stress often caused by various post-war disorders, making this organization a good choice for those who suffer. Again.
“Being on the water is extremely healing. The exercise you get from fishing and boating is great. When the boat rocks and moves, they have to move with it, so it helps their bones and muscles. is healing and tranquilizing in many ways.It’s also exciting because when they catch a big fish we can take some home and cook the fish and it’s a joy. said Breaux.
Fishing Warriors Greater Pine Island, which covers Pine Island, Matlacha and part of Cape Coral, currently has about 118 veterans interested in the group or volunteering, with 70 members, 40 of whom are active, Breaux said.
The organization is 100% community supported and also a member of the Greater Pine Island Chamber of Commerce, he said.
“There are a lot of businesses in Pine Island, Matlacha and Cape Coral that support us and it’s difficult because there are a lot of tools that we need for the things that we teach, like building canes. and fly tying and we don’t have enough equipment to do that. We need volunteers to come to our meetings and help feed the veterans as we have a meal for them at every event. We we need people to take them fishing – even if people have a dock from which they can catch a lot of fish, we can take them there”, said Breaux.
For more information on how to join or volunteer for Fishing Warriors Greater Pine Island, call Breaux 305-582-4978
Meetings and events held at First Baptist Church, 3417 Eighth Ave., St. James City, FL, 33956.