Veterans Find Healing, a Safe Environment to Share Their Stories Through Operation: Fishing Freedom

A Kickstarter campaign to support the production of Operation: Fishing Freedom’s next season on the Discovery Channel is running through July 10


Veterans find healing, a safe environment to share their stories through Operation: Fishing Freedom (Photo: Business Wire)

CHICAGO--()--Veterans from all of America’s recent wars are finding healing, comradery and a cathartic way to share their stories through Operation: Fishing Freedom, a TV show entering into its second season on the Discovery Channel and the American Heroes Channel that is part fishing show and part historical documentary.

“In a fishing boat, people tend to talk,” explains Jay Garstecki, who co-founded Operation: Fishing Freedom along with fellow professional fisherman Ben Olsen. “We launched Operation: Fishing Freedom to get veterans on the water, get them talking, and share their stories. Ultimately it’s about healing, letting go and moving on. It has been amazing what the veterans we’ve had the pleasure of fishing with have shared. Truly, it’s been an honor.”

The show’s next season is scheduled to air on the Discovery Channel beginning in January 2019. To help fund a full season of episodes and increase the number of veterans’ stories that can be told, a Kickstarter campaign has been launched with the goal of raising $100,000 and will run through July 10, 2018.

Garstecki and Olsen split co-hosting duties on the show, each taking one veteran on a fishing trip per 30-minute episode. Dozens of veterans have shared their stories through Operation: Fishing Freedom, including World War II, Vietnam, Korean War, Gulf War and Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.

One veteran who has appeared on Operation: Fishing Freedom and has experienced the cathartic benefits of casting a line is Kurt Power. Power is an Iraq War veteran who served as a sergeant with an Army brigade combat team during the most harrowing days of the war. On Oct. 10, 2005, while operating in a “hot zone” in Ramadi, Iraq, he was shot by a sniper. Power came home with a “chest full of shrapnel”, but the wound he said was the hardest to heal was the one no one could see.

“This show is so important. We are losing more than 20 veterans a day to suicide because they think they are the only ones going through the trauma of having served and coming back home. The fact is that post-traumatic stress (PTS) is normal for any veteran,” Power says. “I just hope that a veteran who watches this show is inspired to get help. I honestly believe someone in crisis will see this show and decide to live another day. The only way we are going to save lives is to talk about it.”

Prior to creating the show, Garstecki spent more than five years taking personal fishing trips with veterans to help them on the healing journey from the effects of PTS.

“It’s been proven that fishing can alleviate the effects of PTS. I’ve seen it firsthand. Through connecting out on the water with veterans from across the country, I’ve heard countless stories of heroism that were too meaningful to go untold … so Operation: Fishing Freedom was born,” Garstecki says.

To donate, visit the Operation: Fishing Freedom Kickstarter campaign.

About Operation: Fishing Freedom
Operation: Fishing Freedom is a TV show that takes veterans on personal fishing expeditions that was created through the nonprofit organization Take a Vet Fishing. It was born as a result of more than five years of co-founders Jay Garstecki and Ben Olsen taking veterans fishing as a means to help heal the effects of post-traumatic stress and a way to capture their stories that are so foundational to American history.


For Operation: Fishing Freedom
Michael Walsh, 612-718-8952

Release Summary

Veterans find healing, a safe environment to share their stories through Operation: Fishing Freedom


For Operation: Fishing Freedom
Michael Walsh, 612-718-8952