PHOENIX (3TV/CBS5) -- "It means something to me, that time in my life means a lot to me," said Damon Crutcher, Army veteran and Vice President of Fishing in the Dark.

Damon Crutcher has a long family history of military service.

"My dad, his dad and his dad all the way back to the revolution. My fifth great grandfather went across the Potomac with George Washington" said Crutcher.

[WATCH: Valley vet helps other vets by hooking them to fishing]

Before a head injury lead to his medical discharge, Crutcher served in the army for seven years.

"I was angry. I was frustrated. I was lost," said Crutcher.

It was a dark time in his life.

"I went and did the things typical vets do when you go down a dark path. We drink or we do drugs. We dip and do stupid things," said Crutcher.

Thanks to the help of his family and friends, Crutcher got out of the darkness. That's when he decided to make it his mission to give back to his military brothers.

He teamed up with good friend and fellow veteran Eddy Soltys. Together, they started the non-profit Fishing in the Dark.

"The reason we said 'Fishing in the Dark' is because most veterans are in the dark” said Crutcher.

Each veteran who signs up through the website is personally called by either Crutcher or Soltys. Following taking the time to uncover what the veteran is going through, they schedule personal time with them to go fishing.

“It doesn't actually happen at night. We aren't out on the lake at night (laughs),” said Crutcher. 

By connecting with nature, they aim to give veterans an outlet to deal with their pain.

"It's healing when you pull in a toad of bass. You are happy. You are confident," said Crutcher.

“It really was just three dudes going out fishing. It was great,” said Mike Castro, Army veteran.

Crutcher introduced AZ Family to one of the veterans who had recently gone through Fishing in the Dark.  

"When I came back from my last tour, things were a little fuzzy for me" said Castro.

Mike Castro served in the army for six years before his medical discharge. With an avid background in hunting and fishing, he was immediately drawn to the program when he heard about it.

"I can honestly say I had a genuinely good time. It was fun it was exciting, and I left feeling like I had gained two brothers" said Castro.

"It's impacting one veteran at a time, and gave him the tools to improve his life," said Crutcher. 

Crutcher is hoping to expand the brand of Fishing in the Dark by taking it nationwide in the next five years.

“Everything would be 'in the dark.' So hunting in the dark, camping in the dark [and] ukulele in the dark if that is what you are interested in. We are going to find things every vet can and wants to do,” said Crutcher.

Part of Amazon Smile, Fishing in the Dark also accepts donations on its website.

 


Copyright 2019 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

 

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(1) comment

DaynaLC83

Awesome idea!

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