Charlie Tarwick is a military veteran working hard to deal with depression and post-traumatic stress. His depression was triggered after he was injured while on duty for the United States Army. He was only 19-years-old.
“My whole spine got crushed," Tarwick said. "Those were driving the issues."
Charlie spent 20 years in the Army and overtime, the pain became unbearable. Despite his pain, which ranged between 10-12, he made a decision to stay clear of prescription pills.
"I refused to take opioids because I saw what happened to other veterans who became addicted,” Tarwick said.
Veterans are twice as likely to die from an accidental opioid overdose compared to everyday people, according to a 2011 study of the Veteran Affairs Health System .
Instead of opioids, Charlie opted for alternative medications to help suppress his back pain. And to help manage his depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, Charlie turned to Veteran Affairs for help.
PTSD is an extreme reaction to an abnormal situation.
"Right now there is no medical or pharmacological treatment that cures people with PTSD," David Diamond said, who is a cognitive and neural sciences professor at the University of South Florida that studies PTSD and the effects it has on military veterans.
"The majority of people can recover so they are relatively normal — no matter what the experience — but you have a substantial minority of people that never recover," Diamond said. "So you will find six months, a year, five years later, you’re seeing that the person is still having difficulty with personal relationships and adapting to society when they return from combat."
Tarwik does not want to be among the stories of PTSD of military veterans that have a sad ending.
In 2009, Tarwick was introduced to Project Healing Waters, a non-profit organization, which is dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military service personnel and disabled veterans. A significant resource for humans of SWFL searching for a way to overcome PTSD.
The mission of Project Healing Waters is to help veterans and active services members heal from PTSD through fly fishing.
A Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation report found that fly-fishing is a natural stress reliever.
In addition, a team of researchers studied how fly-fishing effects combat veterans. They found that veterans with PTSD showed significant improvement after spending time fly-fishing.
Project Healing Waters showed the military veteran an effective recovery system and coping skills to overcome impediments from returning to his best, most authentic self.
As a form of gratitude, Tarwick said he will help Project Healing Waters launch a group in Cape Coral, Fla.
“It’s my way of giving back," he said,