Saved by Axe
Navy Veteran & fishing guide Chad Brown finds solace on the water. He also suffers from PTSD and without his service dog, Axe, his life outside wouldn't be the same.
In 2010, Chad Brown was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, 15 years after working as a Combat Explosives Engineer in the US Navy and completing two tours of support of Operation Desert Storm in Kuwait and Operation Restore Hope in Somalia, as well as operations in Cuba, New Zealand, Iceland, Egypt, Korea, Kenya, Antarctica, Afghanistan and Spain. PTSD became a daily struggle and reality in Chad’s life.
Chad knew he wanted alternative therapies and was introduced to fly fishing by a friend. He recalls the feeling of complete happiness the first time he ever hooked a fish. He knew then that connecting with the outdoors would be his path to healing. Chad started Soul River in 2010 to merge his love of art, creativity, and design (he had worked for 20 years in creative advertising and design) with his new love of fly fishing. Soul River is an urban, outdoor fashion apparel and gear line inspired by fly fishing, that also serves as a vehicle to communicate environmental advocacy and share the healing powers of fly fishing with a younger and very diverse demographic.
He later started Soul River Runs Wild, a non-profit that is an outdoor, specifically water-based organization bringing under-served inner-city youth and veterans together to the river and returning them home as inspired ambassadors of nature and individuals who have shared in the healing power of fly fishing.
The non-profit operates at zero cost to participants. Military veterans volunteer and serve as mentors to the kids. In 2014, Soul River Runs Wild connected more than 300 kids, ages 10-18, with fly fishing, entomology, river reading, casting, navigation, team leadership, and more. Chad expects over 600 kids to go through the program this year. Chad has been invited to share his vision and passion at the city, state, and federal level, including Capitol Hill. In July, Outside Magazine will have a feature story on the work that Soul River is doing to make fly fishing more inviting to diverse demographics.
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