Project Healing Waters

Three combat vets, each injured in a different war, find healing through fly fishing. Produced for the Mental Health Channel.

The Need

The Mental Health Channel, a free resource of mental health and wellness programing, commissioned the series of short films 'The Journey Home' to share stories of US Veterans dealing with mental health issues. To highlight the healing impact of wildlife, creative activity, and emotional support, this film profiles the organization Project Healing Waters. The channel needed personal, compelling, visual, and authentic stories of program participants to start a new conversation around mental health that promotes openness to help and treatment.

The Story

Three U.S. Veterans, each injured in a different war, share their journey with Project Healing Waters and how the organization has healed and transformed them through fly fishing. Kimberly Smith, an Afghanistan veteran, dedicated her life to the Marine Corps, but after having suffered a stroke she has had to transition out of that journey. She details the impact that Project Healing Waters has had on her life, including going from taking 22 meds a day to taking nothing while out fly fishing in the country. The organization has helped her realize that she is not alone. Mike Escarcida, a Vietnam veteran, suffered traumatic brain injuries and nerve damage in 1968, and now battles with anxiety and depression. However, Mike states that it is because of Project Healing Waters that he is alive today. Through the organization he has been able to break out of his shell; he has gone from not being around a lot of people to smiling and laughing more often, and being a voice and inspiration for other veterans. Kevin Gabert, an Iraq veteran, suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and was medically discharged in 2009. From 2009-2013, all he would do was lay in bed; but he now has a reason to go out and has found a support group through fly fishing. Project Healing Waters has slowly built his confidence and has made the healing process easier. Project Healing Waters illustrates how the power of personal relationships, nature, and fly fishing has a lifelong positive impact on those working to overcome reintegration challenges.

The Team

  • Producer: Brandon Kramer

  • Director & Editor: Heather Courtney

  • Director of Photography: Brett Wiley

  • Sound: Jeremy Zunk

  • Production Assistant: Jonna McKone

  • ‘The Journey Home’ Series Producer: Arcos Films

The Client

The Mental Health Channel is an online network featuring powerful stories to raise awareness of mental health issues and help viewers realize the benefits of improved mental health.

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