Many people use paddling sports as a way to come to peace with nature and themselves. It is an activity that offers relaxation and serenity, away from the abuses of our busy worlds.

Perhaps it has never been more evident than from the results of one organization’s efforts to help returning veterans readjust to life back home.

Heroes on the Water (HOW) is a national non-profit with chapters in North Carolina, and the mission to help warriors relax, rehabilitate and reintegrate through kayak fishing and the outdoors. 

Essentially, HOW provides instruction and access for military personnel through kayaking, paddling and fishing. It provides an activity that offers the peace our veterans and active service members need in order to readjust to normal everyday lives.

One person labeled the results from the HOW program as “triple therapy.” Rather than having to pursue occupational therapy, physical therapy and mental therapy, HOW offers occupational therapy by means of learning a lifetime activity and skill, physical therapy from the benefits of paddling and fishing and mental therapy from relaxing in nature with no distractions or performance expectations.

“Give a man a fish; feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish; feed him forever.” Never has this been more true, yet with even more added benefits.

Troy University conducted a study over 18 months on alternative forms of therapy for individuals who faced traumatic experiences. It showed that after learning and participating in kayak angling, soldiers were more inclined to participate on a regular basis rather than stay solitary in an environment that allowed one’s mind to re-enact stressful scenarios. 

Numerical results showed 56-percent less stress was experienced by the participants after participating in these outdoors activities.

Those who had incurred sleep deprivation resulting in approximately two hours each night due to highly traumatic experiences showed restful sleep intervals increase to five hours or more with a 60-percent decrease in nightmares, night terrors and re-experiences.

The kayak-angling community has long been known as a tight-knit one. The bonding aspect of kayak angling resulted in a 63-percent decrease in avoidance of family and comrades giving the participant healthy social interaction.

HOW is not just a one-time event, either. Between the paddling and fishing clinics, guided and semi-guided trips with both guides and kayak-angling enthusiasts, and the ability to bond with fellow friends and comrades to participate in the sport together at any time, HOW allows a constant and lifetime ability to further re-associate with the world without the limitations that traumatic stress incurs.

Matthew Frazier leads the local foothills chapter in North Carolina and can be found on Facebook by searching Heroes on the Water-Foothills North Carolina Chapter.

Brett Hinson, founder and owner of Carolina Custom Rods, is also running a raffle to help provide funding to the chapter by offering a custom-made rod. The rod is a 6-foot8, cobalt blue Batson Eternity blank with a Batson Alps MVT smoke colored reel seat. It has Batson Alps micro guides in smoke color and a split cork grip with a black butt cap. Retail on the rod would exceed $500.

You can email for both raffle information, or information on how to participate or help. You can also find more information at