by Tommy Braswell / August 22, 2015 / The Post and Courier
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]o Max Hearn, the Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing program that takes place twice a month at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Hospital has allowed him to recapture a bit of his childhood. Participants, led by retired Army veteran Walter Shockley of Georgetown, meet at 6 p.m. the first and third Tuesdays of each month where they learn to tie flies, build fly rods and study the insects they are trying to emulate with their artificial flies. Occasionally there are field trips where the veterans have an opportunity to put into practice what they have learned.
Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing is a national program “dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military and disabled veterans through fly fishing and associated activities including education and outings.” It began 10 years ago and now has about 188 groups across the U.S.
Information on the local group is available by contacting Shockley at (740) 397-5113, e-mailing email@example.com or on the group’s Facebook page at PHWFFCharleston.
Hearn, a 68-year-old Summerville resident, loved to fish as a youth in his native Tennessee and at one point bought a beginner fly rod and reel and materials to tie flies. But school, jobs, the military, family eventually became more of a priority and he packed away the fishing equipment.
A retired Navy hospital corpsman, Hearn served in Vietnam and returned home shouldering a lot of guilt because he came back alive. A lot of his friends weren’t as fortunate. As a way to give back, he began volunteering a couple of days a week at the VA Hospital where he heard about Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing through a newsletter.