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Project Healing Waters chapter starting in the Allegheny Highlands

“It’s being outside and just becoming one with your surroundings.”

Mike Burns describing one of the joys of fly fishing in a quiet mountain stream. The peace and contemplation of that scene is what Project Healing Waters wants to bring to disabled Veterans. Mike is heading a group of volunteers eager to start a chapter of Project Healing Waters here in the Allegheny Highlands of the two Virginia’s. He describes the mission of group.

“The Healing Waters is dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled military service personnel and disabled veterans,” he said. “Of course it’s fly fishing is what it’s based around, the other associated activities would be like fly tying, rod building, casting and other different events like that in this area. That’s how I ran into these guys, fishing in the local streams.”

The Healing Waters program began in 2005 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. It’s grown into a nationwide program with 21 regional organizations, each with multiple chapters within each region. Mike gives more detail about the chapter they want to set up in our region and who they hope to reach.

“The Virginia region is one that we’d be working out of and it’s one of the larger ones in the country,” said Mike. “This would be the tenth different program within the state of Virginia. It’s radio coverage, you guys you know help us out with that because it’s going to be Highland, Bath, Allegheny, Pocahontas and Greenbrier counties.”

He said there are certain qualifications for membership in the Project Healing Waters group.

“The main criteria is that they have a disability rating from the US Dept of Veteran Affairs or they could be recommended to the Healing Waters from Virginia staff or some kind of medical VA staff or a recreational therapist or something like that.”

Mike said they’re in the organizational phase right now and hope to get the group going some time after the first of the New Year.

“I’m working with a deputy regional director, Jim O’Brien, he’s from out of that Tidewater-Norfolk area, but he has a place over here in Bath County,” said Mike. “We’re working together to try to get the word out to the disabled Veteran. And like I said, because of HIPAA rules and confidentiality we really don’t know who these guys are, so we’re sending the message out so we can identify them and then once they’re identified we’ll have a target date for when we start the program.”

The new chapter will be called the Hot Springs Chapter and they hope to meet at least twice a week. Dominion Power has already offered the use of a building near the Pump Storage complex in Mountain Grove for one of the weekly meetings. Mike said each disabled Veteran would be paired with a guide for a one-on-one experience. A mix of both public and private lands is used for the activities of each chapter. Want to know more?

“Well they can contact me, Mike Burns, and my home phone number is 304-799-6092 or they can also contact Jim O’Brien, and he’s over in Virginia, and his number is 757-535-3813.”

You can also email Mike Burns at ba4ester@hotmail.com. Mike said they are hoping to recruit at least 10 members to start the new Hot Springs Chapter of Project Healing Waters.

Story By

Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

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