One of the first events on our calendar this year is fly tying. Mending Waters Montana feels this event is one of our anchors and most important programs we sponsor. Many people may wonder what is special and so important about this endeavor.
To begin with, there are virtually hundreds of thousands of fly tiers in the country. If a survey was done most will tell you they started to tie flies to save money by making their own flies as opposed to purchasing them.
That is not the case with the soldiers enrolled in our classes. Fly tying can be difficult, challenging — even frustrating to learn. It is also very time consuming, which is an important part of the class objective and learning process. Just like standing in a stream fly fishing and becoming totally absorbed in your surroundings, the student becomes totally focused on tying flies. His/her mind does not travel to places and events of the past. In other words fly tying and our program is a healing process that cannot be equated to the cost or time involved by our volunteers.
The following is a message we recently received via our website from one of the soldiers enrolled in our classes.
I am currently taking a fly tying class by Montana Project Healing Water and interested in going on a PHW fishing trip to learn more about fly fishing this Spring or Summer if possible? The fly tying class has already been life changing for me!
Briefly about myself, I was deployed with the 1-163d Infantry BN to Iraq in 2004-2005 as the medical platoon leader. I am married and have 4 daughters. I have managed to keep my life together but with PTSD I have found it difficult to relax, find rest, rejuvenation, and excitement in life. I sought help thru the VA a few years ago for PTSD and thru behavioral counseling weekly over the last year and a half I am addressing my combat traumas and doing better.
I have found great enjoyment, rejuvenation and relaxation learning how to and tying flies. My family and I would like to thank PHW and everyone that made this opportunity possible for me! I also hope this e-mail encourages PHW’s mission to continue!”
MPHW’s fly tying endeavors are not limited to the classroom here in Montana. In late March 140 members of the 1-189th GSAB will depart for Kuwait. Among those leaving Montana are at least six who have attended previous classes conducted by MPHW. They have volunteered to teach fly tying to others in the unit.
These classes fit right into and support our mission statement of healing and getting soldiers involved in what could be a lifelong pursuit.
MPHW is committed to our fly tying programs. It is a great monetary investment for an individual to get “set up” with tools and materials.
With that being said each student is given all the tools and materials for not only the class but also enough to last them a long time in the future. This year we have 14 soldiers enrolled in our class. In the case of the Kuwait deployment we have provided 12 sets of tools and vises and a tremendous amount of material.
The total cost of both of these endeavors exceeded $7,000. Almost every item was purchased on a wholesale pricing schedule. Do the math and convert this figure to retail costs. This will give you an idea of the quality and value we place in our fly tying program.
We are thankful to the manufacturers and vendors who provide a cost savings to us.
We are more equally as thankful to you — the people who support us through your generous donations to this very worthy cause. This is where your donations go. MPHW is an entirely volunteer organization with no paid staff. Every cent donated can be traced to helping a Montana active duty solider or military veteran.
Picture: Joel Silverman MPHW Board Member/fly tying instructor.