Healing waters run deep in northeast Pa.
On a sunny Wednesday afternoon in early May, Dotter’s Creek in
Monroe County became more than a Class A wild trout stream.
It was a place of healing.
Twenty one veterans from wars ranging from Vietnam to
Afghanistan came to Dotters Creek, and for a few hours their minds
focused only on the clear water and the trout below.
The event was part of the Project Healing Waters, a national
program that links veterans and fly fishing, and through such a
combination gives those who served our country a respite from the
stress that comes from those memories that will never fade.
The members of the Stanley Cooper Chapter of Trout Unlimited
invited me out to cover the event.
I’m glad they did.
The veterans were all outpatients from the Wilkes-Barre VA
Hospital, which provided transportation to Indian Mountain Rod and
Gun Club, which readily allowed the event to be held on the club
As they exited the bus – some walking and some lowered down in
wheelchairs – I noticed a cautious look on many faces. Cautious
because they had been involved with so many programs aimed to make
things better that when a new one came along skepticism was
But it didn’t last long.
Once off the bus and in the sunshine, the veterans could see
Dotters Creek across a nearby field. Before it was a rack of fly
rods and gear, and next to it stood a handful of volunteers and
Trout Unlimited members ready to teach the veterans all they knew
about fly fishing.
It was the least they could do.
“These men and women gave up part of their lives for our
country,” said one volunteer. “We can give up a part of our day for
As the veterans spent the afternoon fishing, I was amazed at how
quickly they took to casting a fly rod. None of them had fly fished
before, and only a few had ever cast a line into the water before
The club stocked the stream with 100 trout, and the veterans
caught and released many of them. They posed with their fish,
shared a lot of laughs and intently plied their new-found skill.
Most importantly, they thought about fishing. Not bills. Not health
problems. Not work. And certainly not war.
On this day, as 21 veterans lined the bank of Dotters Creek, the
water truly healed.