Warriors and Quiet Waters
Guiding Veterans to Find New Purpose: WQW Builds Trust, Teaches New Skills, Creates Community, and Helps Warriors Thrive
Warriors serving in the military have a tangible mission and a purpose with actionable tasks and structure that provides a path toward specific objectives. When they suddenly find themselves as veterans, sometimes after decades of service, finding a new way forward and a new purpose can be complicated and overwhelming.
Warriors and Quiet Waters was a dream imagined by Eric Hastings, a Bozeman, Montana native and an aviator for the Marine Corps. Hastings flew on 168 combat missions in Vietnam and eventually reached the rank of Colonel. He was the chief of staff for Marine forces during Operation Desert Storm. Whenever he returned home after a mission, Hastings would endure some level of PTSD and often used fly fishing as a peaceful means of coping with the many stressors of war.
Two decades after 9/11, more than 200,000 veterans return to civilian life annually, and nearly half of them will experience difficulty reintegrating into society. In 2007, the need for alternative solutions for supporting these warriors in transition became increasingly apparent to Hastings. Hoping to share the sanctity and quietude of fly fishing with fellow veterans, he created Warriors and Quiet Waters (WQW).
Warriors and Quiet Waters provides a safe and supportive environment for post-9/11 combat veterans and their families to reflect and explore new paths post-military life. Programs for first-timers are free, including travel, and consist of five days of fly fishing equipment and one-on-one instruction with a fishing guide. Participants are housed and fed on the beautiful Quiet Waters Ranch in Bozeman, Montana, and connected with a family of volunteers and fellow servicemen and women. They join a group of up to six veterans or caregivers to experience the outdoors, find community, and reimagine a path forward.
The organization's goal is not simply to offer a one-time experience but an experience that will positively influence the outlook and future of these veterans and their families—that they will become a part of the greater WQW family.
Warriors and Quiet Waters provides a safe and supportive environment for post-9/11 combat veterans and their families to reflect and explore new paths post-military life
“We are really working to increase our successive programming," says Annual Fund Manager Liz Shull. "That means follow-ups and check-ins from program leaders and encouraging past participants to volunteer or return to participate in alumni programs."
This year, WQW launched two new programs—one centered around backcountry backpacking and another called "Hunt for Purpose." By expanding its programs, WQW hopes to serve more veterans while maintaining the individual connections and community building of its small group programming. Each year, WQW sees around 275 unique warriors through the program, while many others return as alumni or volunteers. The goal is that participants leave the program with newfound energy, lifelong connections, and experiences that can be used as long-term tools for a thriving future.
Anthem Snacks is very familiar with the impact of Montana's mountains and rivers on mental health and the correlation between our wide open spaces and finding space to grow inwardly. In support of the Warriors and Quiet Waters Foundation, Anthem Snacks is auctioning off a one-of-a-kind 48" X 48" painting, “Winston the Elk”. Anthem matched the winning bid, and a total of $10,000 was donated to benefit Warriors and Quiet Water's (WQW) newest program Hunt for Purpose; "guiding combat veterans to purpose through Archery Elk Hunting.