Disabled veteran Jim Beilfuss learns to roll cast.


Cherokee County disabled and elderly veterans learn to fly fish through innovative partnership program

Canton, GA

Have you ever thought of doing something that will help reduce anxiety with PTSD, something that will help veterans with disabilities get out of the house and want to learn to do something they may have done as kids or pre-military? Something that teaches patience, and helps veterans reconnect with their families in a lifelong recreation program that they thought they would never be able to do again? Something that involves both male and female veterans at the same time?
These questions get asked every day from local veterans of our VA, our local county parks and recreation department, and of other organizations, and most times the answer is, “Sorry, we can’t help.”
Well, a pair of local organizations have partnered to create a program that goes right to the heart of this need. The Cherokee County Homeless Veteran Program, (CCHVP), part of Legion Post 45 and Post 316, and the Cohutta Chapter of Trout Unlimited have announced and are implementing a free fly fishing program for disabled and elderly veterans of Cherokee County.
According to Don Thomson, Cohutta Chapter president, “the four-week program is being led by chapter instructors and provides the following classroom instructions; intro to fly fishing, equipment used, lines leaders and knots, clean water conservation and insect life, places to fish, fly tying, fly casting. The program will also culminate in a go-fishing day at a private fishing club in the North Georgia mountains."
The free program includes the use of fly fishing equipment, and focuses on disabled veterans, as well as elderly veterans, of all skill levels. The fly fishing program is designed to focus on getting disabled veterans out of the house into adaptive sports so they can again be part of the community. “In addition to the adaptive sports slant on this program we also see mental health and quality of life improvements for the veterans and their families who are in our program,” added Jim Lindenmayer. "The group of veterans we have in this pilot program include veterans from three war eras, some are combat-injured veterans, over 80 percent of the veterans in the program are rated at 90 percent or higher service-connected disabled by VA, and we have both male and female veterans participating.”
“We are pleased to create this program in partnership with the veterans of Cherokee County and CCHVP," added Thomson. “Fishing is a sport for life and can be enjoyed at all ages and skill levels.”

Joe Worley, Navy corpsman, inspects a fly reel.

Trout Unlimited instructor Rob Hilken talks to veterans about equipment for fly fishing.

Air Force veteran Donna Hartley learns to fly cast.
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