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'This helps them forget' | Support group uses fishing to help veterans find peace

Veterans from all military branches get together at ponds across York County as a way to build friendships and cope with post-military life.

YORK COUNTY, S.C. — A York County group has found a new way to help veterans adjust to life after their military service: Take them fishing. 

York County Fishing with Veterans was founded by two Air Force veterans in 2015. Flash forward to today and they have around 100 members who spend relaxing days on the water while giving back to the community. 

"Our mission is to get the veterans out of their clinical environments and out with other veterans," Bob Baker said. "We've got Air Force, Marines, Navy, Army and we even have a couple of blind guys with us."

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The veterans say it's all about camaraderie. 

"No matter how stressed you are, you get out here fishing and get to cutting up with each other, and everybody relaxes," Tommy Ayers said. 

The goal is to help veterans relax from past trauma with guys who fought a similar fight. 

"We get people here that ... they remember things, and this helps them forget," Ayers said. 

Most of the ponds these veterans meet at once a month are catch and keep. And while there are bragging rights about who hauls in the biggest and most fish, they're often given to families in need. 

"We went to one small pond where we caught over 200 fish and they were all given to one person who divided them up to seven families," Jim Carter said. 

Giving back to the local community is just one way that York County Fishing with Veterans shows support, but what they really want is to show other veterans that there is a place for them, too. 

"We'll be glad to pick you up," Baker said. 

The group says they want to reach out to more of the younger veterans and get them involved. Click here to learn more about York County Fishing with Veterans.

Contact Ruby Durham at rdurham@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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