Bringing Together Disabled Veterans for a Day on the Water
Bringing Together Disabled Veterans for a Day on the Water

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What better way to spend a Saturday then going fishing! For ten years the Double V Rod and Gun Club has partnered with the refuge to bring disabled veterans together for a day of fishing. Refuge Manager Mike Horne states “We have a longstanding tradition of working with veteran’s groups and with local conservation partners.  What better way to celebrate both than to host events like this on the refuge?” Seeing this as an opportunity to give back to the community, the Double V Rod and Gun Club once again invited disabled veterans to the refuge for a day of fishing, food and fun. 

On Saturday, Owen’s Station, which is normally open to the public, was closed for this event so the disabled veterans would get premier access to fishing from the accessible boat launch and banks surrounding the lake, share stories and connect with each other, as well as eat some delicious food provided by the Double V Rod and Gun Club.  According to Bob Schmidt, President of the Double V, “there were 45 veterans from the Paramus VA Hospital Paramus, NJ, Disabled Veterans from the VFW Garfield, NJ, and Montross VA Hospitals Montross, NJ with their caretakers and one veteran who had successfully hunted turkey on the refuge accepted our invitation to our tenth event.”

As for the day of, “first and foremost, we were truly blessed with the most beautiful weather and day,” exclaimed Bob. All fishing equipment is provided and 35 volunteers from the Double V Rod and Gun Club as well as Refuge staff (several of whom are veterans too) assisted each veteran with baiting hooks, removing fish from the lines, helping them know where to cast in the water to catch a fish, and lending an ear to listen to their stories. This year the veterans also had the opportunity to try out archery in an indoor archery facility at Owen’s station, as well as kayak around Owen’s Lake. "Watching and helping veterans’ fish, kayak, shoot bows and enjoy the outdoors was an amazing experience for me,” said refuge specialist Lachlin Robertson. This was his first year participating in the event and Lachlin believes, “our partnership with Double V Rod and Gun Club is one we value greatly and without the club and their volunteers this great event wouldn't have been possible. Seeing the smiles on the faces of people who gave so much for this country was truly a gift, I'm excited for next year's veterans fishing event and working again with all the great people at Double V Rod and Gun Club!"

As Bob shared, “all volunteers spent time sitting down with veterans who wanted to share their feelings about the event and spoke with them. The veterans were very surprised and appreciative of the event,” and according to Bob Schmidt, “every year has gotten better and I cannot wait for 2025.” And Manager Horne agreed, as he affirmed, “I very much appreciate the staff and volunteer effort that went into making this event a great success."

Story Tags

Wildlife refuges

Recreational Activities