Reeling in the moments: Group focuses on getting veterans out in nature

Updated: Jul. 28, 2020 at 9:45 PM CDT
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JACKSON COUNTY, Ill. (KFVS) - There’s something calming about being out on the water.

If you love to fish, then you know it can be a big stress reliever.

“It’s my zen time,” said Isidoro Castillo. “Escape from things and clear your mind. That’s what it does for me.”

American Veterans Outdoor Adventures understands that and holds fishing events like one recently on Kincaid Lake.

“There’s several of us in this group that’s not veterans, and it’s something for us to give back because we couldn’t do what we do without them,” said Jason Dudley with American Veterans Outdoor Adventures.

AMVETS Outdoors is all about giving veterans a new outlook on life through outdoor adventures.

They know our veterans face daily challenges when they return to civilian life.

"The suicide rate is too high," said Jason Dudley. "If we can get them out here either hunting or fishing, boat seems like it makes the world to them."

It's a non-profit organization, so they run on donations.

They try and host several trips a year for veterans, whether it be fishing or hunting.

"This is our first event of the year since COVID-19 hit," said Dudley.

They had a blast on a recent adventure in Jackson County, spending time a group of veterans and their wives.

“Just getting to know people from different branches, the camaraderie and brand new people you meet,” said Isidoro Castillo.

Castillo is from Clarksville, Tennessee and made the trip to southern Illinois for this fishing trip.

He is retired from the army after serving 24 years.

“Everything seems to go away when you are out here, laughing, cracking jokes and just having an overall good time,” said Castillo.

He appreciates these opportunities to share stories, and make new memories.

"It's about escaping everyday life and enjoying the moment," said Castillo.

That truly is the goal, and it sure helped that the crappie were biting that day.

It was one for the memory books.

American Veterans Outdoor Adventures (AVOA) is based out of Bonnie, Illinois.

Find out more by clicking here.

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