Nine injured veterans gathered at the Olde Fish House Marina Saturday to enjoy a day of fishing through the Wounded Warrior Anglers of America organization.
David Sounders, founder of the non-profit organization, said the goal is to have a relaxing day on the water, so the wounded warriors can get away from stress, injuries and life. He was excited to have the outing out of Matlacha because he said that is where the organization started.
The organization recently started a chapter in Jamestown, R.I., where wounded warriors were treated to a day of tuna fishing.
"Everything is going really well," he said.
Wounded Warrior Anglers of America was founded in 2012.
Sounders said getting out on the water is a great way to help with post traumatic stress disorder as well as stress management.
The mission of Wounded Warrior Anglers of America is "the use of fishing as a tool to help rehabilitate the mind, body, and soul while fostering the mental and physical well being of all service members who have been injured, wounded or disabled in the line of duty no matter what their era of service."
Each wounded warrior received a free Quantum fishing rod before they left the Olde Fish House Marina to go fishing Saturday. They left the marina between 9:15 and 9:30 Saturday morning and returned shortly after 3 p.m.
Lisa Dence, operating manager of the Olde Fish House Marina, provided a free breakfast for everyone Saturday morning and a fish fry once they returned later that afternoon.
"It's all donated from us because we are grateful for their service," Dence said.
She said they are going to try and hold the event quarterly at the marina.
Sounders said the next outing will be held in November.
Nathan Loy provided the boat wrap and logo design for Wounded Warrior Anglers of America.
"Not a lot of people think of them after they get back," he said of the service members, which is why he wanted to get involved.
Loy said Sounders understands their stress since he is a wounded warrior himself.
Saturday's event included four captains- Sounders, Antoine LaChapelle, Jeff Asbury and Tony Rogers.
Dence said the list of local captains that want to get involved in the fishing excursions is growing.
LaChapelle donated his time during the first outing, which was held June 30. He said he met Sounders at the Save Our Servicemembers event on Father's Day, which led him to becoming involved in the outings.
Since he likes to fish, his sister is a retired Marine and his brother is a Marine, he decided to remain involved in Wounded Warrior Anglers of America outings.
He classified the event as special because it provides him with the chance to give back to the former soldiers for all they have given to us.
"It's a great organization," LaChapelle said. "The guys had a great day on the boat."
He mentioned that the Olde Fish House Marina is also doing a great thing for the organization as well.
"The Olde Fish House is so gracious to have this," LaChapelle said. "This is awesome."
Rogers, a captain for the first time during the Aug. 4 outing, moved to the area a month ago from Dallas. He said since he spent 26 years in the Army he is definitely a supporter of the organization.
"These guys need a lot of support," he said.
When out on the water Rogers said they mostly told fishing stories.
The event also holds a special meaning to the wounded warriors who are treated to a peaceful day on the water fishing.
Isac Collado, who met Sounders at the VA Clinic Friday, was invited to take part in the outing, which he thought was great.
He spent 12 years in the Army and is currently on terminal leave. He said the transition from being a soldier to entering the civilian life again was hard.
The fishing trip, Collado said, helped him come out of his shell.
"I just moved here," he said of his new residence in Lehigh, coming from New York. "It's nice to have people to talk to."
Saturday's outing was his first fishing trip since he moved to the area.
Collado said he will definitely go out fishing with the organization again and hopes to become a captain one day.
In addition to the captains taking the wounded warriors out, Carmen Driscoll of Carmen's Kayak's took out the wives and children, so they to could experience a stress-free day, too.
Two wives and three children went out kayaking with Driscoll Saturday.
"When they go fishing, we go kayaking, so they can see the area and have fun too," she said. "It is so relaxing for them."
Driscoll said she got involved because it is for a great cause.
"Anything we can do to help and get their mind off of things," she said.
Driscoll's next goal is to the get wounded warriors out on the kayaks to do kayak fishing.
"I've been doing it for nine years, it will be nice to share that experience with everyone," she said.
So far Sounders said he has taken eight total trips with his organization, which included four from the Olde Fish House Marina.
For more information, visit woundedwarrioranglers.org.