The Iron Freedom Foundation

Veterans, Healing and Community with Will Cannon from The Iron Freedom Foundation. Podcast Ep 93 – Part 1 of 2

In this episode we Wadeoutthere for Part 1 of our discussion with Will Cannon from Midland Texas.  Will picked up a fly rod when he was eight years old and fished his home waters in Texas until he turned 17 and joined the Army as a scout.  After leaving the profession of arms, he found himself struggling with PTSD and battling cancer.  At his lowest point he returned to fly fishing and found relief. Determined to share the powerful healing he experienced through fly fishing with other struggling veterans, Will started the non-profit organization, The Iron Freedom Foundation (IFF).  

** NOTE** Podcast episode appears at the end of this short article.

In part one of my conversation with Will, we discuss:

  • The beginning of IFF
  • The science of why fly fishing helps with anxiety, depression and PTSD
  • How IFF is building communities of veterans that can use fly fishing to heal themselves and others.


The fly fishing community is unique. Maybe it’s because the craft we love and share is unique.  The intricacies and broad facets of the sport are as varied as the men and women who pursue them.  There are so many different waters, fish, styles and reasons to fly fish.  Yet, something about pursuing fish on the fly is similar enough to bind us all together.

Chasing fish on a fly rod brings strangers together through conversations over a beer or a simple nod on the river.  Ideas both spoken and left unsaid,  “You believe what I believe, and we show each other by wading into the river and fishing.”  

Sometimes I forget what these communities mean to people.  I’ve been a part of tight knit organizations in the past.  Communities and friendships born from struggle, joy, and time away from family in pursuit of a common mission centered around service.  This community experience is the norm for many of our servicemen and women.  Often when they leave the military, they leave those places and people behind.  The void can be powerful. 

Fly fishing is another place for veterans who are struggling to find a sense of belonging when their time in uniform ends.

Will Cannon sees the value of combining these communities.  The efforts at The Iron Freedom Foundation, help connect veterans struggling and give them a new place to find the folks who believe what they believe.  

It’s a place between the past and future.  A place for those struggling servicemen and women to “come back” to. A community of pride and hope.  And a shared smile when a fish takes our fly.


Learn More

You can find out more about The Iron Freedom Foundation at their website here:

The Iron Freedom Foundation

If you want to learn more about the healing properties of water read these books that Will mentioned in the podcast:

The Nature Fix by Florence Williams
Deep by James Nestor
Blue Mind by Wallace J. Nichols

Ask a Question on the Podcast

Below are some folks I will be talking with on future episodes. If you have a question for an upcoming guest, I would love to hear from you.

  • Pat Dorsey – Colorado
  • Sam Galt – Pennsylvania
  • Landon Meyers – Colorado
  • Audrey Wilson – Utah

If you enjoy the Wadeoutthere Fly Fishing Podcast, and want to help it grow, please leave a rating and review.

I hope you enjoy this episode as much as I enjoyed talking with Will.


Jason Shemchuk

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