We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Sportsmen’s club held our Take A Vet Fishing event Saturday. This marks our seventh year in a row of hosting the group. In spite of the threat of rain, around 45 vets showed up for a morning of fishing in our stocked pond (over 100 trout caught), as well as lunch.
Take A Vet fishing was formed about ten years ago as a program of a local Congregational Church. The first year we hosted these folks, we were afraid no one would show up – about 20 did. It’s grown since then and this year’s event attendance was held down only by the weather.
Couple of things come to mind as I volunteered –
No guvmint involvement. No studies, no budgets, no oversight. Everyone’s a volunteer, to the companies that provide the bait, to the driver’s that pick up the vets (more below), to those of us that helped bait hooks, clean fish, cook lunch, clean up, etc. I’m just a grunt, but I’m pretty sure all the food we cooked was donated also. Suffice to say no one went hungry for either breakfast or lunch and we had plenty of leftovers to send home with our guests.
Started by a church. A church. That bastion of help and charity in American for over 200 years.
The Vets – I know why I’ve slept so easy my life. Men and women like these folks were out there protecting me. The oldest we had today was 92, the youngest probably mid-20’s. Most of these gentleman are residents of either state or Federal vet’s homes, so they are either dealing with substance abuse or PTSD or for whatever reason, just haven’t been able to make it all click. To a man, they thanked us for hosting them. Not a bad word was spoken, and those few who didn’t catch fish didn’t moan about their “bad luck”.
They gave us a nice award for hosting them for seven years. Guy who accepted it for us was in tears. Said it was the least we could do for those who have done so much for us. Told them we would keep hosting them for as long as they wanted. There might have been a couple of other damp eyes on the part of the volunteers . . . .
Take A Vet fishing’s been tremendously successful in helping vets who might have integration problems. They run trips in the spring and fall including a day where charter captains donate their time and boats.
Programs like these work because it is the citizens who plan, organize and run them. We don’t do it because we need someone to tell us to do it- there was a need and someone decided to fill it. No one asks for recognition or thanks (hell, we stock an extra 400 fish for them) and the only goal is making sure everyone has a great time.