SARASOTA, Fla., /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --
Angel Alvarez didn't catch any fish during a recent Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) fishing trip, but he didn't feel like he went home empty-handed.
The Army veteran found the camaraderie and tranquility that helps heal his combat wounds.
"I didn't catch a thing, but that's not why I was there," Angel said. "I wanted to enjoy the fishing experience and be around other warriors. I found peace of mind being with them."
Once the boat was in the Gulf of Mexico, warriors shared their experiences and felt empowered as they worked together to catch fish in a comfortable setting.
Peer support plays an important role in the recovery process as injured veterans rely upon one another's learned experiences when managing day-to-day challenges. This special type of therapy reintroduces injured veterans to the unique bonds experienced during military service. Rarely duplicated in the civilian world, these relationships act as a secure bedrock that paves the road to recovery.
"I went around and checked how everyone was doing," said Army veteran James Smith. "I talked to a lot of warriors about transitioning back into civilian life.
"Once we got out on the water, I think everyone felt relaxed and had a good time."
In a WWP survey of the injured warriors it serves, 29.6 percent of survey respondents expressed physical activity helps them cope with stress and emotional concerns. Programs like this highlight the importance of managing mental health through physical activity and connecting with other veterans.
In the process, James managed to hook a few fish, including a 12-inch mackerel.
"We were eager to get our lines in the water and start catching fish," James said. "Once a warrior caught the first one, everyone's attitude really picked up. Most caught between two and five fish, but some caught up to 10.
"But it really wasn't about the fishing. It was about bonding with other warriors and enjoying the day."
To learn and see more about how WWP's programs and services connect, serve, and empower wounded warriors, visit http://newsroom.woundedwarriorproject.org/, and click on multimedia.