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Good fishing and therapy

Boating For Heroes takes you out

Elton Hyland, Keith Mathews and Ernie Goodhue will host a “Salute to the Military”, March 11, at the Lady Luck Cowgirl Up Steakhouse & Saloon. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

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"I have said for a long time that we can do more good for these men and women in four hours what a psychologist can do in four months," said Elton Hyland, a Navy veteran and a member of Boating For Heroes.

"We are humbled when these veterans feel good when they come in off the water."

Begun by Keith Mathews, another Navy veteran, in 2014, Boating for Heroes is a small organization of veterans who have decided to help active-duty and veterans with mental and physical challenges.

The organization has worked with over 700 veterans.

Like fishing, talk can come slowly on the boats.

"When they first get on the boat most of the warriors don't know one another and they don't say very much," said Mathews.

"But in a relatively short period of time they begin to talk, to bond, and it is a great thing to see and be a part of."

The organization's mission is to educate and raise awareness about the area's wounded warriors by promoting the values of courage and selfless service which emphasizing the bonds of friendship among veterans and the public they served.

Boating For Heroes helps the nation's warriors and veterans from all branches of service and their families through the therapeutic qualities of fishing, pleasure boating and working together on a boat.

"Many of the wounded warriors feel they can talk to us in confidence," explained Hyland.

"It is always better to be silent and just listen, and we are good listeners."

The organization's boats, which are 20 to 26 feet in length, feature adaptive devices to allow returning and wounded warriors with limited abilities to participate.

"We are committed to offering our services to those that want a good fishing trip or water excursion in their steps to coming home," continued Mathews.

Boating For Heroes coordinates with Joint Base Lewis-McChord's Warrior Transition Battalion (WTB) and the Naval bases at Bremerton and Everett.

The organization also stands out in that it charges nothing for its time and energy.

"We do not take money, ever," Hyland clearly and strongly emphasized.

"We are here to help these men and women; there are no fees; there is no hidden agenda."

If individuals wish to donate funds, they can.  That money goes only to replacing fishing gear used on the boats.

The Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife waives licensing fees, and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts 318 (Olympia) and 1949 (Enumclaw) have been generous in their support.

To begin the 2017 fishing season, Boating For Heroes is hosting a "Salute To The Military and Law Enforcement" event, March 11, at the Lady Luck Cowgirl Up Steakhouse & Saloon, located at 14114 Pacific Avenue South in Parkland.

The festivities begin at 1 p.m., and guests can tour the boats, sign up for the free fishing trips and enjoy the company of those who serve.

"This is unbelievable," commented Lorraine Hoyle, the owner of Lady Luck.

"For what veterans have done for us, it's about time we honored them."

For more information, visit or call 253.691.4075.

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