To provide traumatically injured U.S. servicemen and women from Iraq and Afghanistan with a high quality restorative program, utilizing the therapeutic experience of fishing on the Gulf of Mexico, and adjacent in-land waters.
Warriors and Quiet Waters, Southern Chapter (WQWSC) brings wounded warriors to Florida for a six day program of fishing and recreation. Most warriors who come are still in rehab in the military hospital system. Once here, they have the opportunity to relax and to learn to fish the Gulf of Mexico and our in-land waters in the quiet and beautiful surroundings of North Florida.
The positive impact on the healing and rehabilitation of the warriors from the program and their experience is clear. WQWSC's Fishing Experience program provides a respite from the rigors and stresses of war and from the treatment they have endured because of their injuries. They receive quality fishing instruction from caring and expert fishing guides, instructors and companions. Through adaptive methods of fishing they can move beyond their disabilities to learn a new life skill and to gain the recognition of the importance of engaging in new activities as they move forward in their recovery. There are many organizations and businesses that help us provide this great experience, a few of which are listed on our affiliates page.
WQWSC funds the transportation, accommodations, and access to volunteer medical professionals if needed. Furthermore, each warrior receives a complete fishing outfit to keep (including rod, reel, and sun protective clothing), so they can continue to experience the therapeutic benefits of fishing after their trip has concluded. All aspect of this program are provided free of charge to the wounded service member through generous donations and volunteer support. Individuals wanting to donate or volunteer with the Warriors and Quiet Waters Foundation should feel free to utilize the Donation tab.
In 2008 Marine Colonel Eric Hastings joined forces with a local retired physician, and Naval officer named Volney Steele. Their organization was born along the lines of the well-established Project Healing Waters, which was started in 2005 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and now has about 80 chapters throughout the country. Col. Hastings and Dr. Steele began discussing ways to help rehabilitate our wounded servicemen and quickly came to something they both love: fishing.
Dr. Steele and Col. Hastings, both being avid fishermen, were keenly aware of the restorative powers of the sport. They were also acutely aware of the effects of war on those who serve. The next natural step was to combine their love of fishing with their passion to help our returning veterans. As a result of their insight and efforts (as well as the efforts of many other volunteers in Montana), the concept became reality; with the founding of Warriors and Quiet Waters, in Bozeman, Montana.
In 2011, Dr. Steele moved to the small community of Ochlockonee Bay where he met a group of local volunteer firemen and first responders. He began telling them about Warriors and Quiet Waters and this piqued the interest of one person in particular: Anthony Stephens. Anthony began doing some research and quickly decided this program had to have a presence here in North Florida. He gathered together his fellow firemen and first responders to form the initial planning committee, and very soon after the organization was formally born as Warriors and Quiet Waters, Southern Chapter. In short order, volunteers from throughout the surrounding communities joined, and our group now includes individuals from many walks of life. All of our board members and volunteers serve without remuneration.
WQWSC is modeled upon the extremely successful Warriors and Quiet Waters in Bozeman, Montana. We owe a debt of gratitude to that original group, and their unwavering support of our nation’s wounded service members, as well as their willingness to guide us through the process of providing similar services on the Quiet Waters of North Florida.