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Army Corps hosts Fishing with Veterans event

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Fourth annual event draws record turnout

By Zac Oakes

 

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Saturday morning was great weather to get out on the water and catch some fish for around 30 veterans from the local area.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sponsored a Fishing with Veterans event at Holmes Bend Boat Ramp on Green River Lake. Around 30 veterans participated, according to Park Ranger Jessica Lee, who organized the event.

The fishing day for veterans is not a new program, Lee said, as the Corps of Engineers has partnered with other local agencies to organize the event for the last four years. Lee said this year’s turnout was the largest they have seen.

“There are other lakes in our area that have been doing something like this, so we decided we would like to get on board with it,” Lee said. “Rough River Lake is close to Fort Knox, so they get a lot of veterans from Fort Knox to come there.”

Lee said a unique aspect to the event they put on is that all the veterans that participate are from the local region.

“They’re all local,” Lee said. “All of them are from this area.”

The event has proven to be successful locally, as Lee said many of the same veterans return year-after-year, but bring new people along with them to participate each year.

“We have had the same core group for the last four years,” Lee said. “We just add a little bit each year.”

Temperatures Saturday morning were mild for the month of October, and while skies were mostly overcast, the rain held off for the duration of the event. A quick look at the catches the veterans came back with seemed to indicate that the participants had success on the water.

“It seems like it’s an every other year thing,” Lee said. “Last year, they didn’t catch a whole lot, so I figured they would catch a lot this year.”

Veterans spent about three hours out on the water, catching fish and enjoying the camaraderie with others, before returning back to land and enjoying a free lunch, courtesy of the Friends of Green River Lake, as well as having prizes available.

“As soon as they get off their boats, we have lunch prepared for them,” Lee said. “And we have gifts of appreciation that are also donated by Friends of Green River Lake. We have some other giveaways that are available for them, too, through the Corps of Engineers. Some local businesses donate items for this, too. They just call me and tell me that they like what we are doing and want to donate something to it.”

Lee said the Corps chose to host the event at Holmes Bend due to the fact that the boat ramp, shelter, and restrooms are in close proximity, which is beneficial for veterans who have difficulty walking long distances.

“Some of the veterans that we have can’t walk long distances,” Lee said. “This is really one of the best areas that has the boat ramp, bathroom, and picnic shelter all close together.”

The feedback from the community has been very positive, Lee said. She said the veterans who participate are grateful that the Corps and other local agencies put in the time and effort to put the event together.

“We get good feedback each year,” she said. “I think they really like the camaraderie that comes along with it. Many of the boat drivers that we have are veterans, too, so it gives them a chance to be out on the water, catch some fish, and tell stories.”

Lee said this is an event she hopes to see continue in the future, and she said she is thankful for everyone who helps make the event what it is, as well as thanking the veterans for coming out and participating.

“We keep getting more participation, so I hope to see it continue in the future,” Lee said. “Everyone seems to like it, so we hope we can continue doing it each year.”