Webster Parish Tourism partnering with program to help local veterans and first responders 

By Paige Nash

Webster Parish Tourism is in the initial stages of partnering with “Heroes on the Water.” This non-profit organization is designed to offer recreational wellness experiences to veterans and first responders who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorders, anxiety and depression.  

The primary recreational wellness experience offered by this program is kayak fishing. It has been proven that fishing could offer non-traditional mental health benefits for participants. It can provide cognitive and emotional support, reduce PTSD symptoms, while increasing healing and overall well-being.  

“Heroes on the Water ” began in 2007 and has almost 50 chapters spread across the country. Louisiana currently has three chapters: Southwest, Lafayette, and New Orleans. 

“I am still in the early stages of partnering with this organization, but aside from tourism and on a personal level, my hope is to start our own Minden Chapter,” said Serena Gray, Webster Parish Tourism Director.  

The first step would be to install launches that help to provide anyone with a physical handicap access to the water in a safe manner, and in doing this, provide an opportunity for them to do something fun with their families in the parish.  

“I am currently having conversations with other locals to gain more interest and more importantly their time to commit to starting a local chapter,” said Gray. “While I am not a veteran myself, I have friends and family who have served and I don’t think there is anything I could do to really show my gratitude for their sacrifice and dedication to our country, but I can’t sit and do nothing either, right?” 

The “Heroes on the Water” program has found a simple and proven solution to a very intense and complicated issue that many veterans and first responders deal with. Their solution? Paddle, fish, heal. Webster Parish has many scenic waterways and lakes that would make for a perfect opportunity to do just that.  

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