This is a story that started with a boat on Lake Gaston. It was supposed to just be a day of catfish and bass fishing between friends. It has turned into a new calling.
Rich Segarra is a disabled veteran. He is also an avid fisherman. He founded the non-profit Operation Vets with Nets in 2021 following a day on the water with a friend who had been battling PTSD. Recently he told a Chesapeake (Va.) television station that the mission may sound simple but if it is accomplished could yield massive results.
“My goal is to bring a little calm and peace into our warriors’ lives,” Segarra said to WAVY-10.
With that as an inspiration, Segarra began increasing the frequency of his fishing trips. He also added to his guest list as more local veterans showed mutual interest. The 20-year Naval veteran said that expansion into the Hampton Roads area is next.
No matter the present, he continues to go back to the first few trips. The callback to the calm and what it could mean to others.
“If it was so therapeutic for me, and seemed therapeutic for him, why not do something that can benefit any of our disabled vets?,” Segarra said.
Operation Vets with Nets currently has a handful of volunteers that also take veterans out if Segarra can not make a trip. He specially cited Matt Glover, Mike Barnes and Mark Downing as three individuals who are giving of themselves.
WAVY-10 spoke with Bill Kinney about the project. Kinney was a military policeman and went to Vietnam in 1971. He said that returning home is very difficult and that even to this day he struggles with sudden, loud noises.
“When you’re in a warzone, you’re always watching your back,” Kinney said. “You have to depend on your fellow soldiers, whether you’re on duty or off duty, because you don’t know when you’re going to be attacked.”
Operation Vets with Nets is still looking for support.
“You get 100 people donating $10 per month, that adds up,” Segarra told the station.
The foundation is looking to fundraise for several large projects. One such, is making a boat wheelchair accessible. If you would like to help the organization financially to complete that project, click here.
If you would like to donate to the organization to gas the boats, get new equipment, or help with insurance, click here.