BRANFORD, Conn. (WTNH)–As the sun was rising this morning, roughly 100 veterans gathered at the Branford Yacht Club.
They were ready to leave land behind and head out on the open ocean.
It’s all part of “Take a Vet Fishing,” a program started in 2007.
“Most of our events are shore based either on long island or lakes, ponds and streams,” said Jeff Bugee. “And this has become in three years the most popular event. It’s unbelievable.”
“The vision is to take the take a vet fishing program up another notch and get all the boaters in Connecticut and different clubs to take our model, this template and use it,” said Lori Nicholson.
Going fishing sounds so simple. But the veterans will tell you, these boat trips are life changing.
Ryan Dion was in the marine corps. During his last tour of Iraq, he was badly injured by an IED.
“I do have posted and it’s nice to get out of the house and come have camaraderie and spend a day out on the water and fish,” Dion said.
“It’s great being out on the water it’s a day of tranquility, camaraderie, being able to talk to people you otherwise wouldn’t have met.”
The veterans spend several hours out on the boats, which are donated by their owners. The focus is on reeling in that big catch. Whether that happens or not, the real goal is escaping the difficulties of the real world.
“We’re filling a need absolutely filling a need. I’m proud of that. I’m also humbled.”