Approximately 50 military veterans with visual impairments and their families from Leavenworth and Topeka were treated to a picnic and fishing event Wednesday at the Eisenhower VA Medical Center.

“This is the first time we have done this,” said Dawn Clouse, visual impairment services coordinator for the VA Eastern Kansas Health Care System. “We had a good number of participants. This is all about socializing and engaging with the veterans. They are a great bunch of people.”

Members of the group Project Healing Waters attended the event and showcased their hand-made fishing lures and rods. They also gave a demonstration on proper fly fishing techniques.

“We go to things like this about once a month,” said Chase Credeur, program lead for Project Healing Waters.

He said most of the members of the group are disabled themselves to some degree.

They teach other veterans how to tie flies and give tips on fishing. They also go on fishing trips with veterans.

“It’s about the camaraderie – that’s part of the healing for a veteran,” he said. “And learning new things like this, it gives veterans something to focus on.”

After the picnic, several veterans and their family members fished at the pond at the VA, including Robert Olberding, who fished from his wheelchair on the dock.

Clouse said the Eisenhower VA Medical Center will have more events like this to honor veterans in the coming months. She said a group of veterans will be treated to a Kansas City Royals baseball game in September. A member of the Leavenworth party will throw out the first pitch in that game. Another outing will be a tour of the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri, in October.