BROADDUS, TX (KTRE) – Take a soldier fishing.
That's the name of the nation-wide program started by a soldier, who wanted to give active duty soldiers and their families a chance to get away from the stresses of military life.
Soldiers come to fish, but find more than just what's biting at the end of their lines.
"This place brings peace to me," said Veteran Gary Burdine.
Founder of "take a soldier fishing" Mike Nashif has been in their shoes, serving in Iraq and volunteering with wounded soldiers at Fort Hood.
"I'm a soldier. I'm suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome and traumatic brain injury and I know what I've gone through and it's a lot easier for me to talk about it then it is maybe for somebody else but if I throw my situation out there and they realize they're not alone, they open up," said Nashif.
His gift to 40 soldiers and their families is a weekend getaway hosted by the Jackson Hill Marina.
Boaters pair up with soldiers, taking them out for a day of fishing.
"It gives us a stress free environment," said Sergio Vasquez.
The open lake is a safe place to share stories.
"You're under a lot of stress and your personal life is wrecked when you're in a war, something like that. But to come back to a place like this, it means a lot," said Burdine.
Burdine has walked many roads less traveled. The Vietnam veteran worked in Iraq as a federal officer for the Department Of Justice, helping to build an Iraqi police force.
Burdine's experience even led him to help locate Saddam Hussein.
"We found this trap door and sure enough it was Saddam down there. He had about three-fourths of a million dollars in cash money with him. He had been hiding in that hole for awhile."
Burdine's time in the military has brought the loss of many friends.
It's a pain he shares with other soldiers.
"Last night when we were out here and the soldiers are all relaxing, they received a text message that one of their platoon Sergeant's had just killed himself," said Nashif.
It's a harsh reality they can't escape.
"Take a soldier fishing" helps them deal with the pain by getting the help they need, as they build new hope.
"Hope can save a life," said Nashif.
"Take a soldier fishing" holds events throughout the nation.
Their national headquarters is at the Jackson Hill Park and Marina.
They are planning to expand their program, building cabins as a part of their couples get away program to help military families.
If you would like to donate to "take a soldier fishing" you can go to www.takeasoldierfishing.org and click on the donate button, or mail you donation to:
The Jackson Hill Marina at 1705 FM 2851, Broaddus, TX 75929.