In July, the Portland Press Herald ran an interview with Marc Bilodeau and Bob Pelletier, the leaders of Back in the Maine Stream, an outdoor support group for disabled veterans. Bilodeau and Pelletier are themselves disabled veterans who like to fish. The group provides peer support to veterans who have returned home to Maine:
Both men love to fish. This year alone, they have organized 12 donated fishing trips to their group of Maine veterans, which now numbers 50. The group’s mission statement promises they will “improve the participant’s physical, social and emotional well being through fishing activities and outings. We believe veterans helping veterans improves all of our abilities, physical and emotional.”Studies show that any time outdoors improves mental health. The comments of the vets leading this initiative seem to show that this is the case with their fishing expeditions, too:
What’s most striking about the work you do with other disabled veterans?
MARC: It’s interesting the difference you see on these fishing trips. People come in and you see their attitude change. They will come in grumpy and leave happy. Something happens.
BOB: You’ve got guys with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, with brain injuries, guys who are visually impaired. We get them fishing and none of that pertains.Back in the Maine Stream has a website with pictures of trips, upcoming activities, and other resources of interest to disabled veterans in Maine.
We had one gal join us, I won’t use her name. She is one tough cookie. No one goes near her. She came up to me after one trip and said, ‘Get your camera ready.’ Then she came up and gave me a hug.