Scores of soldiers assigned to Fort Stewart’ Wounded Warriors Battalion are being treated to a free fishing event at Stewart’s Pond No. 1, also called Pineview Lake. According to retired Command Sgt. Maj. Adna Chaffee of the Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 789, local veterans’ organizations will sponsor a catch-and-release fishing outing from 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Aug. 23.
Chaffee said the WTB soldiers will be paired up with veterans from the VVA; American Legion Posts 168 and 321; Disabled American Veterans, Chapter 46; and Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 6602. Although some of them may have disabilities of their own, he said the veterans will serve as fishing partners for the younger, wounded soldiers and, hopefully, bridge a generation gap.
“I’m asking all of our veterans to bring their fishing poles, gear and boats, whatever they’ve got,” Chaffee said. “I said, ‘Let’s take these guys and gals fishing.’ I want to see interaction between the young and the old. Talk to them. Get to know them. Help them.”
He said young soldiers facing medical separation or retirement will need veterans’ organizations to help them with disability claims and appeals to the Department of Veteran Affairs, as well as personal assistance and group support. The veterans organizations also need the younger soldier to “add new blood” to their organizations so they can continue to help future veterans.
He explained that the DAV, VFW and VVA send select members to school to learn how to complete and appeal disability claims. He emphasized these positions are unpaid. Their reward is helping fellow veterans, he said.
Chaffee encourages members of all local veterans’ organizations as well as associations like the Association of U.S. Army and the Hinesville Military Affairs Committee to take part in the fishing event, either as fishing partners or by providing burgers, hot dogs, bun, chips, ice, drinks and water bottles for lunch. Willing and able cooks also would be appreciated, he said.
As much as possible, organizers plan to make accommodations for handicapped soldiers, including access to boats or a flat area on the shoreline from which a soldier can fish. Veterans should bring their own bait and extra lawn chairs. The chairs especially will be needed during lunch, Chaffee said.
“I have talked with (Stewart-Hunter) Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Louis Felicioni, and he has assured me that state fishing licenses and installation fishing permits have been waived for WTB soldiers,” he said. “Everything is also a go now for our veterans who’ll be fishing with the (WTB) soldiers. They won’t need state or base permits, either. For this reason, I’m telling everyone this will be a catch-and-release fishing event.”
He said most of the veterans who’ll be assisting the younger soldiers are older than 65 and probably have already free state fishing licenses and free post fishing permits.
Chaffee said the purpose of the fishing event and other planned events with the WTB and other soldiers is to inform active-duty soldiers about veterans’ organizations available to them when they leave the service. He wants to help younger soldiers feel welcome when they “walk out the gate.”
Forty-five WTB soldiers already had signed up for the event as of Aug. 9, and Chaffee said he’d like to see at least that many veterans take part.
Participants can get to Pineview Lake by Highway 144 from Glennville or Fort Stewart. The drive from Stewart will take 30-45 minutes, according to Chaffee. Watch for signs for Pond No. 1/Pineview Lake and signs about the fishing event.
For more information, call Chaffee at 369-5378.