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Aggie veterans offer comfort to others through fly fishing lessons

Posted at 6:07 PM, Nov 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-18 20:31:27-05

COLLEGE STATION, TX — Several Aggie veterans have created a program that’s designed to soothe the heart and mind by means of the great outdoors. For those men and women in high-stress lines of work, it can be hard to find ways to take care of mental health needs. Bryan-based and Aggie-owned nonprofit 'Good Fly' offers up a special tool for self care: a rod and reel.

Out at Millican Reserve in south College Station, Texas A&M alumni Rusty Dunn, '63, and Stephen Weaver, '90, don’t have to think about routine and regimen – something they both lived by as cadets in the Corps, and as military service members. At the reserve's small lake, they can just focus on nature and their friendships. And they’ve discovered that this outdoor therapy is something that should be shared.

"Whether you’re military or law enforcement, or any of these jobs where you’re caring for other people, there are stresses," said Weaver, as he cast and re-cast his line over the water. "So I think those people in particular need ways to de-stress.”

Weaver and Dunn met one another years ago when Weaver requested a fly fishing lesson. In 2020, the men and their alumnus friend Alan King officially formed the nonprofit; taking an activity they love and sharing it for free with first responders, front-line healthcare workers, and veterans.

"I’ve been given much in life, and it’s a way to give back," said Dunn. "It’s something that I enjoy. I enjoy helping people, and people have helped me over the years.”

The most recent fly fishing excursion took place this past Sunday with Bryan police officers. As with classes before them, just under two dozen participants spent the day learning at the hands of Dunn & co. the proper techniques for fly fishing, before hitting the water themselves.

Bryan PD lieutenant Jason James attended, bringing along his friend and neighbor, a local retired cop.

"We’ve got a job to do, so we don’t get to visit," James said, explaining the daily grind of an officer. "So in this situation, with this training, now you get to be on a more personal level of just seeing how [your coworkers] are doing, how their families are doing. We got to talk to some of the families. So it’s a different atmosphere where things are slower.”

Good Fly founders feel that spending a day on the water learning to fly fish – while it’s not a silver bullet cure for stress and anxiety, it gives people a chance to experience peace where they might not otherwise think to find it.

Good Fly will hold their last free session for the fall season this weekend. But any organization interested in taking part in their spring 2022 program can visit the website goodfly.org.