Killeen group puts focus on veteran, servicemember mental health with kayak fishing trips

Posted at 10:00 PM, Jun 12, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-12 23:00:57-04

KILLEEN, Texas — Cynthia Debose has been in the army for the last almost two decades. She's also been kayaking and fishing for the last almost two months.

"When I first got there I was like 'I'm not getting in the kayak', but then I tried it and fell in love," she told 25 News.

"I'm even thinking about buying a kayak now."

It's all part of Fort Cavazos' Soldier Recovery Program partnering with Heroes on the Water to bring servicemembers kayak fishing twice a month.

"I had never been in a kayak before but once I got out there it was just so peaceful and relaxing, I ended up in the middle of the lake," Debose said.

The main goal of these events is to provide a peaceful experience for military members to calm their minds.

"It gives us a chance to unplug and get away from the hustle and bustle of what we do every day," Debose said.

"It gives us some time to ourselves, even though we're out on the lakes with other servicemembers, you're in your own zone and it's so relaxing."

Heroes on the Water also gives veterans the chance to take their families fishing. The chapter was started by Francisco Aguilar back in 2015.

"It's not only therapeutic for them, but it also helps me out being out here and watching them out enjoy themselves," Aguilar said.

He said he was looking to fill his time after retiring from the Army himself and this has been a great way to give back.

"It's been a really good experience meeting new people, creating new friendships, learning more about kayak fishing and how this is helping veterans and soldiers," Aguilar said.

"Especially the soldiers at Fort Hood in the recovery unit."

It allows them solitude and quiet time, all while doing it with others nearby so they don't have the sense of feeling alone.

"A lot of the soldiers, veterans and family members have wounds that are not visible."

"They have some issues with mental health they are struggling with. Just because they don't look like they've been injured doesn't mean they're not going through a lot of stuff."