Saturday marked the second annual Take a Veteran Fishing event, in which a group of modern day local veterans, members of the Algoma Veterans Association, in boats provided by the Algoma Fish and Game Club, set out from the Bellevue Marina and enjoyed a day of fishing and relaxation on the waters east of the Sault.
For men like veteran Philip Moore, it was a chance to continue adjusting to life after witnessing the horrors of war.
Moore, born and raised in Batchewana First Nation, served as a Master Corporal with the Canadian Army from 2002 to 2015, including a tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2008-2009.
“I came back with PTSD. I saw a lot of children hurt, a lot of civilian casualties,” Moore told SooToday.
“I was a cook in the army, so I didn’t expect to see those things, but in a theatre of war you’re a soldier before a tradesman, so we took care of each other and we worked alongside the medics. We soldiered on and got the mission done, but my last three or four years in the military was rocky.”
“(But) I feel great now. The Algoma Veterans Association has helped me, it’s been great therapy. It was awesome to get the brotherhood back together again today,” said Moore, who caught 12 walleye, one bass and one pike with his fishing mate on his boat Saturday.
“I’ll be back next year. It’s awesome,” Moore said.
“There’s nowhere else where you get the feeling of mission accomplished than in the Canadian Forces,” said the Sault’s Ian Vanderswan, a Royal Canadian Navy veteran who served from 1996 to 2014, who, as a Leading Seaman, saw anti-terrorist action in Middle Eastern waters after 9-11.
Vanderswan, who caught nine walleye with his fishing comrades Saturday, said “today was excellent.”
“It was a really nice experience. The Algoma Veterans Association has provided a beautiful time for us to come out and enjoy the summer. I’ll be here next year for sure.”
28 vets, ranging in age from approximately 30 to 90 years old, took part Saturday, up from 21 in last year’s inaugural Take a Veteran Fishing event, said Frank Iezzi, a Sault veteran who established the Algoma Veterans Association in 2017 to help modern day Sault and area veterans with the many challenges they face.
“They loved it,” Iezzi said.
“It’s great to see these veterans smiling with those fish in their hands.”
The Algoma Veterans Association continues to actively raise funds to buy a permanent lakefront retreat, a place where veterans can get together in order to combat the onslaught of PTSD and mental illness in a serene, private setting.
Saturday’s event was followed by a dinner for the vets, provided by Royal Canadian Legion Branch 25.