In Chicago, a recent donation event was hosted encouraging local fishermen and fishing companies to donate their gear to give to veterans for “fishing therapy.”
Joseph Lomalie, 34, from Oak Lawn, was injured in Afghanistan in 2008. Like so many other veterans, he currently suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression.
The Chicago Tribune reports that in 2014, Lomalie founded Helping Veterans Go Fishing after realizing it was fishing that helped him deal with his trauma.
There are more than 38 million Americans who hunt and fish, and there are many reasons as to why these activities are so popular. But for Lomalie, the therapeutic benefits are what drive him to go fishing.
“I realized when I was fishing, it helped me keep my mind off my pain — and brought peace to it — and got me motivated to get out of my house and be active,” Lomalie said.
According to VeteransAndPTSD.com, more than 20% of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have PTSD and/or depression.
The event, held at VFW Post 5220 in Oak Lawn, held a raffle to win even more fishing equipment, a guided fishing tour from Army Major and professional bass fisherman Mike Rasco, and a $1,500 boat.
It is the Helping Veterans Go Fishing foundation’s second annual event, and this year more than two dozen veterans attended.
All proceeds from the event will go to a free fishing outing and barbecue in September for veterans and their families.
“We go out fishing to relax,” said Ed Sturtevant, a 48-year-old veteran from Wauconda. He served 17 years in the Army before being discharged in May of 2001. He, too, suffers from depression and believes fishing helps him take his mind off the trauma.
“When we’re out fishing,” Sturtevant said, “we’re not thinking about anything except for the fish.”