Back to Military Life

Heroes on the Water

Local chapter provides release from stress and smiles

JBLM service members, veterans, first responders and their families are welcome to enjoy the services that Heroes on the Water, Northwest Washington Chapter, provides to them. Photo credit: Heroes on the Water, Northwest Washington Chapter

Email Article Print Article Share on Facebook Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon

When Tony Isaac retired from the Air Force,  he decided to treat himself to a gift.

"I wanted a fishing boat as a retirement gift and decided a kayak was the way to go," he began. "I really enjoyed the peace and quiet of being on the water in a kayak while fishing."

One day, while Isaac was loading his kayak onto his truck, another fisherman, who happened to be a volunteer with Heroes on the Water, approached him and asked if he wanted to come to an event to fish for salmon with other veterans.

"I discovered that not only did I have a good time, but it was therapeutic to be around other veterans with many unique and vast experiences ... as well as sharing a good laugh," explained Isaac.

That was 11 years ago, and today he is the volunteer public relations coordinator for Heroes on the Water, Northwest Washington Chapter (HOWNW).

Founded by Air Force veteran and avid kayak fisherman Jim Dolan in 2007, Heroes on the Water, a  501(c) 3 organization, takes military members, veterans, first responders and their families out on the water to fish from a kayak. Currently, there are over 50 chapters across the United States.

"This non-profit has helped me fill my desire to continue to take care of our troops," continued Isaac, "and  I continually see the positive impacts of what we can do for them."

Isaac related how on one kayak fishing event he accompanied a family of four. 

"After a few hours of kayak fishing, I heard the soldier's five-year-old son say, ‘Dad, this is the best day ever,' and then he finally smiled for the first time that day," Isaac related. 

"In my experience, I have seen what we do helps my fellow veterans and their families - and that is what it does for me too."

HOWNW hosts events comprised of 16 to 18 participants from March through December at least once a month. The chapter, which has about 30 members, also has the capability to conduct small events throughout the year. The kayak fishing is done on local lakes, rivers and Puget Sound.

The events are free; fishing and kayaking experience is not required;  and all of the gear, licenses, safety equipment, lunch and assistance on the water are provided.

"If you know someone, or you could use some time away from the stress of a busy day-to-day life, come join us here, or at one of our other chapters across the nation. We also offer many volunteer opportunities as well," concluded Isaac.

For those seeking more information about HOWNW,  visit or call (253) 905-1392.

To learn more about the value of kayak fishing, Isaac suggests reading the following article Recreation Therapy Study Proves Validity Of Kayak Fishing For Veterans And First Responders at

Read next close


Retirement savings plans

comments powered by Disqus