Veteran helping other vets cope with PTSD through fishing - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Veteran helping other vets cope with PTSD through fishing

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(KWWL) -

An area veteran knows how difficult it can be to adjust even when the uniform comes off, and the battlefield is miles away. This Waterloo veteran hopes to help other veterans who are battling PTSD by showing them how fishing can be therapeutic. 

The Department of Veterans Affairs reports that PTSD affects 11-20% percent of veterans who served in Iraq. Many veterans say the trauma stays with them when they come back. 

The Black Hawk County VA says they've helped more than fifty veterans struggling with PTSD in Black Hawk County within the last year.

But for a lot of veterans, that help isn't always as accessible. Just last month, the VA Inspector General opened an investigation into a veteran's suicide who was turned away from the VA hospital in Iowa City.

For a lot of veterans, finding their own way to cope has been their lifeline. For Travis Yaggy, fishing has become more than just a hobby.

"Well, there's a lot of things that were not something I ever wanna see or do again," said Travis Yaggy. "But I did what I had to do to come home."

Yaggy came back from war in 2009 and retired from the military. After serving two tours of duty overseas in Iraq, he came back only to find himself fighting another battle. 

"You're reliving something you've been through," said Yaggy. "Over, over, and over again."

Nearly everyday he struggles with PTSD, finding himself experiencing triggers that bring him right back to those moments in war.

Yaggy knew he had to find a way to get his solace back. 

"It's soothing," said Yaggy. "If I'm down by the river, I can relax. I can just listen to the water flow, and it's calming."

After war, he decided to revisit his childhood passion for fishing. 

"I'm more relaxed," said Yaggy. "I comprehend things better. That's another issue with PTSD. Your comprehension goes out the window."

Kris Jones, from the Black Hawk County VA,  who's worked with Travis, has seen the change first-hand.  

"He has a purpose," said Jones. "And he has a way that he can kind of reach out to other veterans to help them be able to use their energy in a positive way." 

"With the suicide rate, that's getting enormous, that's not something to just sit there and ignore," said Yaggy. 

Yaggy has been working with other veterans, teaching them fishing, and showing them his way of coping in hopes that it can give them the same clarity. 

He has even started a business making custom lures. Yaggy hopes this will help him connect with even more veterans, making his passion into a purpose. 

Visit his Go Fund Me for his business at

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