heros on the water

Causes We Care About: Heroes On the Water

We’d love to introduce you to a cause we truly care about: Heroes On The Water. Heroes On The Water, or HOW, was founded in 2007 to help alleviate stresses and reintegrate returning soldiers. Heroes on the water is celebrating their 10 year anniversary of helping our nation’s warriors relax, rehabilitate and reintegrate through kayak fishing and the outdoors. To date they have served the needs of over 38,000 veterans!

Helping our warriors adjust to normal civilian life was a passion of HOW’s founders, and they recognized early the therapeutic benefits of fishing were a perfect match. The calming nature of the great outdoors and rewarding adrenaline rush of catching a fish seem like the sport is tailor made for our returning military.

A Troy University study looked at the impact “alternative therapy” such as art, dance, or fishing, could have on individuals who have experienced a traumatic event. The results were pretty stunning. Check them out in visual form here:

These therapeutic results are obviously proof-positive on the rewards of outdoors, but fishing is 1. Hard, and 2. Expensive. In comes HOW. HOW has teamed up with experienced kayak anglers to make the entire adventure cost free. No equipment or experience is needed for our soldiers, as they are trained to learn how to catch fish from the yak like a pro.

Providing ecotherapy to military wasn’t enough, they now offer their services to first responders as well! Besides the obvious benefits of fishing for personal therapy, it also helps form a sense of camaraderie. Meeting other people who are ex military is a great way to build the support bubble. Not just for therapy, but making like-minded friends you can fish with!

Check out more of The Heroes On The Water by checking out their website and following them on social media. But first, here are a few REAL life success stories from HOW’s userbase:

Dawn Martin

heros on the water

Branch: Navy

Years Fishing: “Several”

Favorite lure:  Baby bass plastic worm

Favorite Technique: Wacky rigging

Personal Best: 44 inch, 23 pound Northern Pike

Dawn was born and raised in Tuckerton, NJ. When she was 18, she joined the Navy and traveled the world for 12 years. After leaving the service, she worked as a Special Agent for the government for another 11 years before retiring and making San Antonio, TX her permanent home. She lives there with her husband and three children and is the Coordinator for the Heroes on the Water BAMC chapter. She enjoys both freshwater and saltwater fishing. Her favorite lure is a wacky rig with a baby bass plastic worm which she catches most her freshwater fish on. Her personal best was a 44 inch, 23 pound Northern Pike caught a year ago in Minnesota.

Bill Carnegie

heros on the water

Branch: U S Coast Guard

Years fishing:  Tough question, I’ve gone fishing several times, beginning as a child.  I love the peace and solitude of the water and enjoy the physical work of kayaking.

Personal best fish: Best and most unusual was a 6 foot eel in the Gulf of Mexico.  A fun fight.

Fun fact:  Bill is the High Commissioner of the Clan Carnegie and works directly for the Duke of Fife in Brechin, Scotland.

Bill is a retired Coastie who has traveled the world and enjoyed kayaking in Spain, Japan, Soma, German, Scotland, India, Greece, Mexico and of course the good old U.S. He doesn’t consider himself a lifelong fisherman but has certainly loves fishing from his kayak with Heroes on the Water, of which Bill is also the CEO! His favorite lure is any one that will catch fish! Or in his case, a 6-foot eel in the Gulf of Mexico. It put up quite a fight!

Jose (Rudy) Castenada

heros on the water

Military branch: Army

Years fishing: 60 years

Favorite technique: Jerking

Favorite lure: Gulp Jerk shad

Personal best fish: 28″  Speckled trout on fly rod.

Jose was Born in Texas but grew up in East Los Angeles with 3 brothers.  Living in California he learned to fly fish in the mountains. Jose joined the Army in 1973 in 1981 had both knees shattered and as a result had took an Honorable Discharge. Upon moving back to Texas he again found his love for fly fishing, this time for Red fish.  Jose is married to Maria who also loves to fish and hunt. In 2015 they discovered Heroes on the Water and started out by volunteering with the Coastal Bend chapter. After 6 months they started the Rio Grande Valley chapter. Running a chapter is not easy, but for Jose, a hug from a Veteran makes it all worthwhile.

Thank you for your service Jose!

Rusty Helms

hero on the water

Military branch: United States Army

Years fishing: Since I was a kid.

Favorite technique: Shakey Head or Crankbait

Favorite lure: Roboworm or Spro Little John crankbait

Personal best fish: 22”, 8 lb Bass

Bio: Rusty served in the Army for over 20 years, living throughout the US and the world while in the military and has enjoyed living abroad in many different locales.  Currently, he is the chapter coordinator for the HOW – Northeastern Oklahoma chapter. Rusty remembers going to local ponds with his brother, Greg, and grandpa, who helped teach him to fish.  They would ride together in his “papa’s” ‘66 Chevy pickup truck and fish with cane poles.

Thanks for your service Rusty!


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