Ryan Harman met a disabled Marine veteran out on the river while fly fishing one afternoon in 2007 and the rest, as they say, is history. The Marine reminded Ryan that fly fishing “helps you think about the good stuff,” and told him that organizations were promoting it as a way to help veterans heal. Even though this interaction with the Marine was short, it was memorable, and Ryan knew he wanted to be a part of something that gave veterans an opportunity to find something that they thought they lost – normal day-to-day life. Since then, Ryan has volunteered countless hours with Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing Inc., (PHWFF) a nonprofit organization dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military service personnel and veterans through fly fishing and other associated activities. The organization’s programs enable these individuals to establish bonds of support and camaraderie after experiencing the horrors of warfare.
Ryan’s initial efforts involved starting a PHWFF chapter in his Asheville, North Carolina community and creating a curriculum for programs geared towards homeless veterans. As a Regional Coordinator for Georgia and the Carolinas, Ryan helps run over 16 programs that serve 1,000 veterans annually. In 2012, he accepted a position on the organization’s National Board of Trustees, and is currently chair of its Development Committee. Additionally, Ryan created a planned giving program and established key partnerships to launch Camp Healing Waters, a multi-day camp for veterans that promotes life skills like personal finance and budgeting, stress management, and communication skills.