It’s an honor to serve your country, but it’s an additional honor to then provide a service that helps past and present soldiers.
Mike Nashif, a former Iraq war veteran, served two tours with the United States Army. An Oregon native, Nashif enjoys the outdoors, especially the fight of a big fish. During his training at Fort Hood, he used his free time to fish the local waters for catfish, crappie and bass.
In between tours, Nashif realized that his time home would be short and he could be called up again at anytime. He found fishing the local lakes more relaxing than anything else. During his time fishing, Nashif was very generous to give a pole and/or a lure to a child who didn’t have one.
“What comes in my hands, I like to pass it on,” he said.
Nashif knew that other soldiers in his situation don’t get the opportunity to get out on the lake and enjoy angling. Nashif went on a fishing forum and asked if anyone would like to take a soldier fishing.
Responses flooded in.
The first Take a Soldier Fishing event provided 12 soldiers the opportunity to go out and enjoy a day of fishing, along with a $5 buy-in for the biggest bass.
The first event had 23 people involved, including soldiers and volunteers. The next year as the word got out, 250 people took part volunteering and donating. Currently, there are events all over the nation and every year the number of volunteers and soldiers grows.
Nashif wants this program to be all about the veterans and not a profit-making business. Gracious volunteers donate the boats, rods, and lures used in all the events, with 100 percent of the donations going to the soldiers and their families.
The program has brought old and new veterans together talking about life stories. Nashif noticed the quietest soldiers start talking when they are around others who have been though the same experiences as they have had.
Nashif’s goal is to one day hold an event in every state that gives away big prizes for veterans. He sees the program as a way to give back to the current soldiers and the soldiers that went before him.
“It (fishing) helped me so much,” he said. “I wanted to share that with other soldiers.”
Volunteers and soldiers are needed for the next TASF event, May 18 on Lake Ray Roberts.
Texas Parks and Wildlife has provided boat docks, park sites and waved park fees for this event. For more information go to their website: www.takeasoldierfishing.org or their Facebook page.