VENTURA, Iowa - It's free fishing weekend in Iowa, where people can fish for free! One organization is trying to get veterans out on the water, and connect with one another.
The Titan Project hosted a "Reeling in Vets" fishing tournament on Clear Lake Saturday. About 100 veterans grabbed a pole and fished, and around 20 volunteer captains donated their time to guide, with some even bringing in their boats.
This is just one of many events the Titan Project hosts throughout the year to connect veterans. Gabriel Haugland is a part of the organization.
"This event - fishing, hunting, getting back in the outdoors, putting veterans together...you find that when people get out in a boat, when veterans get out in a boat, they start talking about their issues, they start connecting, some healing happens. That's what today is about."
The Titan Project was formed by a group of veterans in 2017 in the hope of reducing veteran suicides, and to grow a support system by hosting events like "Reeling in Vets". Shawn Hippen is just one of the retired service members that came out to fish. He currently helps veterans through the VA in Des Moines, and shares why support groups like the Titan Project are needed.
"We want to get rid of this stigma and help break the stigma that there is help out there, that we are here to help you. We got to come forward and ask for help, whether it is the VA or your fellow veterans. You got to talk to somebody, and there are people out there that will help you through this. That's what we're here to do every day."
Sponsors of the event include Iconic Rods, Clear Lake Bait & Tackle, Tempe's Guide Service, Kevan Paul's Guide Service, Tempy's Guide Service, Eagle's Cliff Guide Services from Lake Pepin, Minnesota, Berkeley Fishing, and Cabin Coffee.