Veteran offers free salmon fishing for other veterans on Columbia River
WASCO COUNTY, Ore. (KPTV) - It’s sunrise on the Columbia River just west of The Dalles. Veteran John Kaiser has taken two other veterans out on the calm waters in search of salmon.
Kaiser, of Camas, does similar trips routinely. He takes groups of veterans fishing for free to offer support.
“If these two veterans who are on the boat today have never met each other and they spend the day fishing together and they have a good time, more than likely they’ll stay in contact with each other after the fact,” Kaiser said.
Wounded while serving in the Army in Iraq in 2006, including the loss of an eye, he retired from the military in 2008. Since 2012, he said he has taken about 1,000 veterans on the fishing trips.
“There’s really no easy way to say it, but the whole point of this is veteran suicide,” Kaiser said.
Adam Kostick served as an Army helicopter pilot for 14 years. He had two deployments to Afghanistan and one to Iraq before an injury also forced him to retire in 2012.
“When I came home, I was pretty depressed,” Kostick said. “I was used to flying every day and felt like I had a purpose.”
But Kostick said he did find many happier moments when fishing.
“I’m very thankful for the people I have in my life who have pulled me out of some pretty low spots,” he said.
One of the people who has led him to better moments is Kaiser.
“There’s so many (veterans) that don’t have these opportunities on their own,” Kostick said.
Jacque Kyriss is another veteran who served as an Air Force structural engineer for six years. She said the bonds formed between veterans are unlike anything else.
“I’ve met people and I feel like I’ve known them my entire life, but I’ve only known them a year,” she said. “And we’re best friends.”
Kyriss said she’s encouraging more women veterans to join the fishing trips.
“I love being a woman doing this and helping to get women out,” she said. “That’s the goal. Is getting them out here doing that.”
Kaiser said fishing is what helped him the most coming home. Since taking his first veteran out 10 years ago, he’s wanted to share that with as many as he can.
“You could see the weight lifted off his back a little bit,” he said. “He was able to set some of that baggage down for a while.”
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