Maritime Programs for Veterans

Elnicki Wade

Outdoor adventures from casting a line to winning regattas

This fall, Marinalife is celebrating Veterans Day by showcasing organizations that advance causes for the men and women who serve our country. Some groups are regional; others are national. All of them run programs to help veterans recover from battle injuries or adjust to life back home in caring communities. Their common theme is the healing power of water and boating. The following list salutes 13 of the many nonprofits in American with missions to serve past and present members of the U.S. Armed Forces. We encourage you to join a group, donate or let these laudable projects inspire you to create your own boating initiatives for veterans.

Veteran dressed in "camo" holding up a fish at a pond
Take a Vet Fishing

Take a Vet Fishing (TAVF)

Since it was established in 2007, TAVF has taken more than 5,000 veterans out for a day on the water in the Connecticut and Long Island Sound area. Veterans receive transportation, equipment, food and beverages, easily accessible waterfront fishing, and whatever assistance they might need to enjoy fresh or saltwater angling.


A group of Michigan-based boating enthusiasts give a fun day on the water to any veteran who wants to go. Events begin with coffee and donuts, then the boats head out to cruise around, swim or fish, and return to the marina for a cookout and gifts donated from local businesses.

Charter for Veterans

This nonprofit provides free, recreational therapy, yacht outings that empower combat wounded and injured veterans to achieve new physical goals in an engaging outdoor social environment. Cruises on the Chesapeake Bay and Potomac River take vets out fishing, crabbing, sightseeing, dining, island hopping, swimming, boat racing and more.

Folds of Honor

Launched in 2007 to help family members of fallen soldiers, this program hosts fundraising events such as golf marathons and online charitable activities to provide spouses and children with scholarships and financial assistance.

Freedom Waters Foundation

Year-round events in south Florida, Atlanta and Indiana provide boating and fishing experiences for veterans and their families, encouraging them to relax, leave their concerns on the dock and enjoy camaraderie with other veterans in a safe, enriching environment.

Heroes on the Water (HOW)

Veterans, first responders and their families take part in outdoor wellness programs to alleviate symptoms of post-traumatic stress and improve physical and cognitive abilities. Local HOW chapters across America offer kayaking, fishing and other aquatic activities that help veterans relax and rehabilitate in a welcoming environment.

One More Wave

Three surfers running into the water at the beach with the "One More Wave" program
One More Wave | Credit Nick Betts

Since 2015, this nonprofit has provided wounded and disabled veterans with surfing equipment customized to meet their injuries and needs. They equip veterans and connect them to their global network of surfing volunteers to encourage healing through surf therapy from coast to coast.

Sail to Prevail: The National Disabled Sailing Program

Founded in 1982 as the first U.S. sailing project for people with disabilities, Sail to Prevail hosts programs for men and women who served our country in any military branch or era. Veterans with any type of disability are invited to spend a day sailing in Newport, RI, with volunteers and staff sailors.

U.S. Patriot Sailing

This Maryland-based nonprofit welcomes veterans into a supportive sailing community to assist them with navigating the hardships of transition, rehabilitating after injuries and adjusting to the complex life challenges associated with combat deployments.

U.S. Vet Connect’s National Veterans Outdoor Resource Hub

This free online resource helps veterans find their next great open-air adventure with unique organizations across America. Water and maritime activities include scuba diving, fishing, boating, sailing, surfing, white water rafting, kayaking, canoeing, water sports and many more.

Valhalla Sailing Project

Veteran sailing on a boat for the Valhalla Sailing Project
Valhalla Sailing Project | Credit Jeremy Dublon

This Annapolis-based group connects wounded, disabled and transitioning veterans with one another and the sailing community to promote veterans’ well- being and address the issues surrounding veteran suicide. Since 2015, more than 250 veterans have taken part in learn-to-sail clinics and sailing races.

Veterans on Deck

Located on Johns Island, SC, Veterans on Deck works to prevent and treat the invisible wounds that affect members of the Armed Forces, during and after their service, through a sailing program that provides holistic support and resilience training.

Warrior Sailing

Using sailing camps and courses as a platform, Warrior Sailing provides maritime education and outreach for wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans to foster skill development and build partnerships between the military and marine communities.

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