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Warriors Afield Helps Veterans Heal

It’s called the Skirmish on the Snake and it’s part of Warriors Afield, the two day fly fishing event in Idaho’s Swan Valley, pairs veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, many who have suffered the physical and emotional trauma of battle with combat veterans from earlier wars and trained guides giving them one on one mentoring in Idaho’s beautiful natural landscapes.

Combat veterans from across generations came together with experienced guides Saturday morning with the hope of turning the cold fast water in the South Fork of the Snake River into healing waters.

Warrior’s Afield Legacy Foundation co-founder Bill Hansen says the mentor relationship formed between young and old veterans can help ease the transition from the battlefield back to home.

“The camaraderie and relationship with a mentor that has walked down that path ahead of them and said you can do it too,” says Bill Hansen.

Hansen partnered with Jon Malovich to start the foundation. Malovich grew up fly fishing and his father is a Vietnam veteran. He tells KPVI that over the years his veterans come away with outings like the Skirmish on the South Fork with new confidence.

“They may have done this as a young child growing up, went into the military, got injured and didn’t think they would ever be able to do it again and we facilitate and show them how that’s possible,” says Jon Malovich.

Veteran Carlos Lugo lives in Idaho Falls. He was one of the many people dotting the river Saturday in a signature red and white Warriors Afield shirts. He tells KPVI he heard about the program through the V.A and wanted to be a part of it. This is his second event.

“I didn’t grow up around fishing, hunting, doing any of that stuff and it’s something I wanted to get into and it was a good outlet,” says Carlos Lugo.

With the trained guide and a mentor on the water, Lugo was all smiles as he hauled in one of the Snake River’s signature Trout.

“It’s been pretty cool. These guys are down to earth, they really care about the vets here and they are very welcoming and they treat us like I guess family,” concludes Lugo.

Warriors Afield isn’t limited to fly fishing. The non-profit also organizes hunting and shooting sports events as well as ATV rides and tours.

The program works closely with the V.A. to help identify veterans for the program.

The event was held at the South Fork Lodge in Swan Valley and sponsored by Natural Retreats.

Originally published by KPVI-TV on June 14, 2015.