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Top Veteran Rehabilitation Programs

Since 911, Desert Storm, the War in Afghanistan, the Iraqi War and other conflicts that are currently going on. There are many organizations that address the various challenges that Veterans are attempting to overcome in their personal and family lives. With Veteran suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and coping with missing limbs there are a lot of programs out there nationally or just locally in your area. The main common thread of these programs is that they help our Veterans learn to relax with the various skills that they learn from kayaking, fishing, surfing, or continue their learning through sailing as a team.

Heroes on the Water:

Jim Dolan and a few of his fishing buddies founded Heroes on the Water back in 2007. In 2011 the foundation was established in Texas and grow to roughly 11 HOW Chapters throughout the United States. At that time the local Chapters used loaner kayaks for their events. These Chapters hosted events for Veterans, Active Duty Military, and First Responders along with family members so that they could Relax, Rehabilitate, Reintegrate and forget the stress from their past or from their jobs.
Today Heroes on the water have 63 HOW Chapters in 27 States. The events hosted by these 63 Chapters provide no expense kayak fishing trips, provide camaraderie with like-minded people, they are one of the few veterans’ charities that include family members in our programs, and “PADDLE. FISH. HEAL.” Is more than a tag line, it’s what Heroes on the Water does, how they do it, and what happens thanks to their volunteers. To date HOW Volunteers have provided kayak fishing experiences to 49,504 heroes and 13,045 family members of heroes.

If you are interested in starting a Chapter in your area, wish to volunteer or participate in events for Heroes on the Water check out their website at

Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing:

Captain Edwin Nicholson, U.S. Navy (retired) is the founder of Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing by sharing his favorite pastime on the lawn at Walter Reed Medical Center over 14 years ago. His vision grew to become Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, a top-tier veteran’s service organization that now encompasses over 200 volunteer-run programs that serve over 7,000 active duty military and veterans each year.

PHWFF is currently spread across 45 states including Washington DC with 198 Programs. It is much more than a one-time fishing trip. Thier program provides basic fly fishing, fly casting, fly tying and rod building classes for participants whose skills range from beginners who have never fished before, to those with prior fly fishing and tying experience. All fly fishing and tying equipment is provided to the participants at no cost. Fishing trips, both one day and multi-day, are also provided free of charge to participants. Depending on the Program some of the fly fishing trips involves kayaks.

Then there is Freedom Ranch for Heroes that is located in Wise River, Montana; they hosts military heroes who have served our country, as well as young heroes who are fighting disease. During their ranch visits, these courageous heroes are able to have some fun, learn new skills, and spend quality time with their families. Partnering with PHWFF; Freedom Ranch for Heroes hosts 160 disabled veterans each year. This joint venture is dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military service personnel and disabled veterans.

If you are interested in starting a Program in your area, wish to volunteer or participate in events for Project Healing Waters check out their website at

Veterans on the Lake Resort:

Disabled Veterans Recreation, Inc. was founded on March 17, 1982. That year the resort was host to its first large group of veterans from the St. Cloud VA Medical Center. Since then, veterans and their guest form 34 states have enjoyed the resort including groups from the Minnesota State Veterans Homes in Minneapolis, Hasting and Fergus Falls and the VA Medical centers from both St. Cloud MN and Iowa City, IA.

In May of 2005, the Secretary of State gave official notification of the name change for the resort; the organization would from then on be known as Veterans on the Lake Resort. In 2005, the user population represented: 81% Disabled Veterans, 1% Disabled General Public, 2% Active Duty Military, 7% Able-Bodied Veterans, 8% Group Use and 1% Walk-Ins. Also during this year, cabins were made available for winter use, allowing the resort to be a year-round facility for the first time.

Veterans on the Lake Resort (VOTLR) is located on the wooded shores of Fall Lake, three miles east of Ely, on HWY 169, (Fernberg Road, commonly referred to as “The end of the road”). The resort has 2,700 feet of beautiful shore line on 24.99 acres situated on Superior National Forest land.

Their mission is to provide a recreational resort that is designed to honor those who have contributed to and sacrificed for our nation, in order to help them heal from the pain and suffering they endure. While this is not a fee free resort there is a charge for the use of the facilities. To keep the cost as low as possible donations to Veterans on the Lake Resort are encouraged. If you are interested in using this facility or donate to this cause check out their website at

Team River Runners:

Team River Runners has been introducing veterans and their families to the healing power of paddle sports since 2004. They are currently in 34 states and have about 76 chapters that provide regular paddling opportunities in a variety of paddling options and paddle craft. Team River Runners’ programs are open to veterans of all eras and their families, as well as non service connected individuals either with or without disabilities interested in furthering the mission of TRR.

If you are interested in starting a Program in your area, wish to volunteer or participate in events for Team River Runners check out their website at

Veterans on Deck:

Veterans on Deck is a sailing program that is located in Charleston, South Carolina that provides opportunities to take Active Duty and Veterans sailing on the Charleston Harbor. If the participates desire to learn the skill of sailing they will also teach the sailing skills to manage a ship. Their mission is to work to prevent and treat the invisible wounds that affect members of our Armed Forces, during and after their service, through a sailing program which provides holistic support and resilience training.

If you are interested in sailing or just a Charleston harbor cruise check out their website at

Warrior Surf Foundation:

Warrior Surf Foundation strives to provide a holistic approach toward mental and emotional wellness. Their program works to help vets deal with the various traumas that can occur as a result of combat service. The 12-week long program provides the opportunity for up to three surf lessons per week, along with many additional opportunities for engagement in the surfing experience. The goal of Surf Ops is to support every participant in the development of the surfing skills, competency, safety, etiquette, and ocean-knowledge necessary to surf unassisted and independently by the end of the 12-week program.

If you are interested in learning to surf or volunteer; check out their website at

In conclusion these programs strive to teach Active Military, Veterans, First Responders and their families to overcome the problems that they are experiencing when their loved one returns home. Feel free to share any other programs that you are aware of so that they can be shared with other veteran groups.