Carteret County - If you fish, you know there's nothing like casting a line and trying to catch the big one. A day on the water is calming and even healing. It's why one group uses fishing to help our wounded military heal from their physical and/or emotional wounds.
As part of our continuing commitment to our military through our Home of the Brave, we show you how Project Healing Waters is helping.
In the blue waters off Cape Lookout, there was a hunt going on. As a boat moved through the water, Navy veteran Jessica Callihan, with rod and reel in hand, quickly yelled out "oh, right in front, right in front, right in front!" As she did, a fish leaped from the water and then quickly disappeared back under the surface.
What these wounded military members were trying to catch is not just what's swimming beneath the water's surface, they're were also hunting for healing, along with other military members who know just what they're going through.
"Nothing bad can touch you out here. It's just you, the water and the fish," explained Callihan.
Callihan, along with Marine Lance Corporal Carmen Lane, were out fishing as part of Project Healing Waters.
"My PTSD has a very big impact on my life... A lot of anxiety that I've never had before where it's hard to be around people to the point where to get out of my barracks room was almost impossible some days," described Lane.
Callihan also was injured while serving. "I got injured in 2007, 2008, so I've been out for a while now. I went through surgeries the first couple years of it so I didn't get out on the water very much, so these past couple years, I've just been out on the water as much as I can. It's my sanctuary."
It's the sanctuary of nature which is now helping heal our wounded warriors.
"I feel like this is more calming, it clears your mind more than group therapy," explained Lane.
Callihan, who admitted at one point she was contemplating suicide, added, "I didn't think it could help me. I'd already given up hope. I'd already given up my passion and love for the outdoors because of the pain and Project Healing Waters and fly fishing gave me my life back."
And even if the waters didn't offer up a fish to Lane and Callihan on this day, these women did catch just what they truly needed.
"This is what I love about it, your mind shuts off and you just react. You don't have time to think. It's the best feeling in the world," described Callihan.
Project Healing Waters is a national organization that offers programs for our active duty military and veterans across the country. There is also a local chapter that teaches all aspects of fly fishing aboard Camp Lejeune. If you would like to find out how to participate, click here to learn more about Project Healing Waters.
It's NewsChannel 12's commitment to bring you stories of our active duty military and veterans through our Home of the Brave campaign. Find all our Home of the Brave stories and how you can help build the Museum of the Marine in Jacksonville by clicking here.
Click on the above video to see the story of Lane and Callihan.