When Eddie Crain, the founder of HAH added fly-fishing (piscatorial) to his program, he intuitively knew the healing it could provide veterans. Fly-fishing immerses the vet in nature with purpose, direction and focus. It calms the mind and creates an awareness of being in the present.After returning from deployment veterans often feel a lack of direction and purpose. Without a sense of direction and purpose we suffer spiritually, mentally and physically. Trauma that leads to PTSD is a full body experience. Veterans know and feel this all too well.
Fly -fishing provides a natural sensory experience that engages the mind and body. It requires balance, coordination, mobility and focus. It allows the veteran to experience nature through their senses. It lets nature enter through the ears, eyes, nose, mouth, hands and feet. The healing power of nature is nothing new. Hippocrates in 460 BC wrote that “ nature cures” not the physician. The physician was the facilitator of nature, helping the “ natural resistance to prevail”. HAH is the “facilitator” of healing using nature.
The low impact repetitive movement of fly-fishing helps calm the mind and reduces the reactivity of the “fight or flight” system. The reading of the water, the direction and placement of the fly allow the veteran to experience “direction, purpose and focus” for the best chance of success. These are “feelings and knowledge” that are necessary in everyday life. And they can and do generalize into everyday life from the experience of fly-fishing.
As a part of the Piscatorial Therapy program Fly-tying demonstration, instruction and participation are offered by HAH for veterans participating in the HAH sessions. Fly tying is a well-developed art of making an intricate fly with feathers and hair of fascinating colors and textures. It requires concentration and mindfulness, paying attention to details, and coordination of the mind and body (hands) to produce a beautiful fly that gives the fly-tier a sense of accomplishment. Tying flies is like a meditation and these skills can carry over into other aspects of the veteran’s life.
The HAH Fly, created by the HAH Fly-Tying Instructor Dan Gandee, is made in the style of the classic Atlantic salmon flies that originated in Ireland over 150 years ago. It consists of 10 key components that are made of genuine and exotic materials. Its wing resembles the American Flag and its body represents the National Defense Service Ribbon in honor of those who serve this country during a time of war.