MIAMI, Florida – October 2, 2016—Overseas Fishing, Inc., cast off on its very first fishing charter with local legend Captain Bouncer Smith aboard Dusky 33; onboard: the legendary Captain Bouncer, two Army veterans, and their sons. The non-profit organization, Overseas Fishing, first started its mission back in June 2016, when James Dolan, the co-founder and Army veteran, was fighting a snook off of Ft. Myers Beach, Florida.
“The anticipation of waiting and the thrill of hearing a screaming reel is like therapy to me,” Dolan said, “Fishing comforts me in a way no doctor or medication ever can, and I just thought to myself, ‘I need to share this with all my soldiers.'”
After two tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, Dolan spent hours in waiting rooms and on examination tables at the local VA hospital simply seeking a peace of mind he hadn’t felt since before he first deployed at the ripe age of 21.
“After I came back from overseas, I kept hearing about soldiers with PTSD and TBI,” he said, “I knew we all came back with a different mind frame than the one we left behind in the States, but I didn’t know what I was feeling was going to affect me in my every-day life.”
Dolan decided to look into alternative treatment for PTSD and TBI and learned about recreational therapy, a combination of traditional psychological therapy and traditional recreational activities.
According to the American Therapeutic Recreation Association, recreational therapy is psychological treatment designed to restore, remediate, and rehabilitate a person’s level of functioning and independence in life activities, to promote health and wellness as well as reduce and/or eliminate the activity limitations and restrictions to participation in life situations caused by a disabling mental condition, such as PTSD and TBI.
“It’s a pretty simple concept to me,” Dolan explained, “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that fishing makes me feel good… it brings me to that happy place I hadn’t felt since before I went overseas.” Dolan added, “My mind is at peace and I am doing something that takes me away from the things that happened when I was deployed. I figured it might just be good for all the guys who’ve served overseas.”
The mission of Overseas Fishing is simple: to bring veterans and their families out on the water for relaxing day away from everyday life. Whether active, reserved, retired, or simply a supporter of the Armed Forces, Overseas Fishing is driven to provide veterans and their family members with a means of finding comfort and peace of mind that they may not have felt since before they or their loved ones have felt since our troops were deployed overseas.
Dolan, along with co-founder, Andrea Franklin, began reaching out to local captains, boat owners, fishing enthusiasts and local anglers to seek donations—not only monetarily but also by way of fishing gear, tackle, and the generous fishing charter itself.
“When we find another captain who’s willing to donate a fishing trip and bring a couple of soldiers on board for a day out on the water,” Franklin said, “It makes me proud to know the fishing community is so generous, so selfless, and so willing to support our troops coming back home.”
Granted, fishing is an age-old pastime brought down from generation to generation for the purposes of survival. So too is being a soldier in the Armed Forces, serving for our country: it’s continued on for survival and for dutiful pride of all generations who have served before. Fishing conjures the peacefulness, tranquility, and sense of comfort that reminds a newly returning soldier what it feels like to be home again—fighting fishing lines, not enemy lines.
If you’d like to support the Overseas cause or need more information, please contact James Dolan at 954-857-4918 or by email at James@overseasfishing.org.