Project Healing Waters hits the water

The Hot Springs chapter of Project Healing Waters took its first field trip Monday to Pocahontas Fishing Game Adventures on Stony Creek to hone their skills on the water. From left, veterans Dave Hissom, Rebecca Lawrence and Brien VanReenen, joined by Ernie Shaw, guide Mike Burns and Roger Trusler. S. Stewart photos

Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer

After a month of preparation, three veterans in the Hot Springs chapter of Project Healing Waters were ready to put their new fly fishing skills to the test.

Dave Hissom, Brien VanReenen and Rebecca Lawrence joined guide Mike Burns and Pocahontas Fishing Game Adventures owners Ernie Shaw and Roger Trusler.

Once the crew had their gear ready, it didn’t take long for the fish to start biting. Within five minutes of finding a place on the main pond, VanReenen and Hissom were reeling in the trout and keeping score of who caught more.

Lawrence joined the men in the afternoon and was catching her fair share, as well.

The group spent the day perfecting their form on the pond and creek on the property.

The excursion was a first for the Hot Springs chapter which recently formed with the support of Burns. With the help of the chapter, Burns has scheduled individual excursions for all three veterans in the program to give them more experience on different streams.

Project Healing Waters is a non-profit organization founded in  2005 to serve wounded military service members at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The project has expanded to provide services to disabled veterans nationwide.

For more information on the organization, visit and for the Hot Springs Chapter, contact Burns at

With a little friendly competition, Brien VanReenen, left, and Dave Hissom, right, kept track of who caught the most fish. In the photo at right, both veterans got a fish at the same time. Mike Burns, center, helped Hissom release his catch.

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