In a world where veterans often struggle with the challenges of reintegration into civilian life, Heroes on the Water (HOW) plays a crucial role in providing support and healing opportunities. The impact is magnified when civilians step forward to offer their time, resources, and compassion.  

Tracy, a dedicated school teacher in New York with a passion for fishing, and Gordon, an Army veteran with a love for the outdoors, exemplifies the power of involvement in helping veterans. Their journey with HOW sheds light on why civilians’ support is essential and how it makes a significant difference in the lives of those who have served their country. 

School Teacher to HOW Volunteer

Tracy’s love for fishing was ingrained in him from a young age when he spent memorable moments fishing with his father and his friends. As a school teacher for nearly three decades, he sought ways to share his passion with the next generation by taking his kids fishing whenever the opportunity arose. However, the financial constraints of being a teacher prevented him from owning a boat until he purchased his first kayak in 2020. 

One day while searching for fishing videos Tracy stumbled upon a fishing TV series where he saw an episode featuring the host  interviewing a gentleman associated with HOW. Intrigued, he decided to research the organization and was deeply moved by its simplicity and clarity of vision: kayak fishing as a form of wellness. Additionally, the family integration aspect of HOW events struck a chord with Tracy, who considers family to be of paramount importance. 

Witnessing a student whose father was a veteran struggling due to veteran-related issues, Tracy recognized the significance of HOW’s work in addressing intergenerational trauma. “Heroes on the Water gave me the tool to help the people I care most about,” says Tracy. 

Tracy’s decision to get involved as a volunteer and start the Genesee Valley chapter of HOW was driven by his personal experiences with anxiety and depression. He understood the calming and peaceful effects of being out on the water, and he wanted to share this therapeutic experience with others. 

Veteran Supporting Veterans

Gordon is an Army veteran with culinary-training who also instructed military personnel on jungle survival and edible plant identification.  After his military service, Gordon became an entrepreneur with successful business ventures and remains dedicated to volunteering for organizations like HOW.   

Tracy’s interest in HOW struck a chord with Gordon and within a few short weeks he decided to get involved with the organization.  Gordon’s passion for nature and his desire to make a difference makes him a valuable addition to the volunteer team. 

Plain and Simple – PADDLE. FISH. HEAL.

HOW’s simple and clear vision of PADDLE. FISH. HEAL. resonates deeply with veterans, first responders and civilians, drawing tremendous community support. For veterans struggling to reintegrate into civilian life, HOW offers a pathway to peace and solace. It provides a supportive community, a brotherhood/sisterhood of military and first responders who share the common need to serve and support one another. 

“Kayak fishing helps me to get away from the humdrum of life.  It’s very hard for veterans to get back into the real world”, says Gordon.  

Tracy and Gordon’s passion for inspiring others is a testament to the transformative impact of HOW. They plan to encourage the addition of more chapters across New York, expanding the healing opportunities for veterans and first responders.  

Heroes on the Water is a 501(c)3 that is dedicated to serving our law enforcement, first responders, U.S. military veterans, active-duty, and their families. These brave men and women benefit from recurring participation in our chapter events, like those held at Genesee Valley. Help us keep them coming back! Join the Honor Circle today!

  1. Greg Endo August 24, 2023 at 9:14 am - Reply

    I had the honor of being at this event and seeing first hand the healing, camaraderie and hard work the Genesee Valley chapter puts into supporting veterans and first responders was inspiring. The chapter volunteers were amazing and talking to them and the participants allowed me to understand just how much HOW means to them. I have some personal issues I am going through as well and it was therapeutic for me too! Thanks to the GV chapter for all you are doing to make life better for veterans, first responders and their families.

    • Heroes on the Water August 24, 2023 at 10:01 am - Reply

      Thank you for being part of the HOW Family!

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