SPOKANE, Wash. — Lick the finger, grab the fir, twist the thread, repeat. That's the drill for the group of seniors sitting in the CLC dining hall at Spokane's Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center.
Tying flies is a relaxing task, but the room isn't quiet. Questions ring around the room as the group learns the precise technique of making thread bugs.
Vietnam War veteran Steve Gump makes creating them look easy, but it's been years of practice to get to this point.
"It gets me out of my head, the fly tying. I'm focused on tying a fly versus other thoughts intruding," Gump said.
Gump was in the U.S. Army for two years, serving in Vietnam for one of them. He said coming back to the states after being immersed in war was difficult, because there was no help readjusting.
There's where the Project Healing Waters program, which helps disabled veterans across the world, came into play.
"I isolated myself from everybody, everything for so many years," Gump said.
After moving back into civilian life, Gump said he struggled with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. But fly fishing every week has helped him change his life for the better.
He isn't the only one, as fellow vet Debbie Crewdson also said the fly fishing program has helped her after initially being scared to start.
"I was terrified, because I didn't know what I was getting into," Crewdson said.
But after those initial fears subsided, Crewdson too found herself at home while fly fishing.
She also became pretty good at it - on an international level.
"I was the 2017 fly tier of the year," Crewdson said. "It was awesome."
At the end of the day though, the best reward is seeing their hard work pay off.
"When you catch your first fish on your own tied fly, it feels so good," Gump said. "It's like you've won all the awards in the world, and it's been very rewarding for me."
The following video is a report on a veteran who received a hero's welcome in Coeur d'Alene.