TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WTOC) - Many military veterans struggle while adjusting to civilian life. For one Army Ranger, fishing became more than a hobby, it saved his life.
Now, he wants to use his love for fishing to help other veterans battling PTSD.
"You can do whatever you want and that's what I want to show people," said Captain Jimmy Armel.
That positive outlook took some time to redevelop after Armel returned home from five tours in Afghanistan and one in Iraq where he suffered multiple concussions as an Army Ranger.
"I was depressed, I succumb to alcoholism, I contemplated suicide which a lot of guys with PTSD do, I am diagnosed with PTSD. One thing that always made me happy, I was working the deck of a boat and I love helping people catch fish," said Armel.
Jimmy capitalized on that newfound passion by creating a fishing charter on Tybee Island, using it to provide veterans a chance to heal their own minds.
“It’s almost like a counseling session. You get out there, you get relaxed, having a good time. You are in a confined area with some people in a boat and you talk about things. Maybe some things that haven’t been addressed. You know, shoot some ideas back and forth and go from there,” said Armel “I have some people that I brought out that have some PTSD issues, depression issues. Every single one of them has the same reaction,” said Armel.
Talking while catching everything from barracuda to snapper can get the conversation started, but the real healing begins when the boat returns to the dock.
“Call somebody, go to a counselor, I go to a councilor every week. There is nothing wrong with that.There is a big stigma especially in the gun fighting world in the military to where you don’t talk about it. You don’t share your feelings, you don’t go to a counselor. Don’t do that. Don’t put yourself through it and don’t put your loved ones through it,” says Armel.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, up to 20% of veterans who participated in Operation Iraqi and Enduring Freedom have been diagnosed with PTSD, a number Captain Armel hopes he can reduce, one cast at a time.
“They get out there and it is just peace, it is like nothing is wrong at least for that little bit of time,” said Armel.
Captain Armel says he is easy to get a hold of if you know a veteran interested in going fishing.
You can send him an email here or give him a call at (912) 239-7309
If you are dealing with PTSD or need someone to talk to, you can call the Veterans Crisis Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text your message to 838255. These services are available 24/7