Fly Fishing Veterans and spouses
Photo from The Iron Freedom Foundation

Veterans, Healing and Community with Will Cannon from The Iron Freedom Foundation. Podcast Ep 94 – Part 2 of 2

In this episode we Wadeoutthere for Part 2 of our discussion with Will Cannon from Midland Texas. 

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

Part 2 picks up with Will sharing a story about the value of including spouses in veterans fly fishing journeys.  We also discuss:

  • The Devil’s River in Texas
  • Fly fishing in Texas
  • Will shares some both emotional and humorous stories from his journey with IFF

If you missed Part 1 of our conversation, Will Cannon 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, Will 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). 


When Will talks about the importance of including the spouse in a veteran’s fly fishing journey, it hits home for me in a way I didn’t expect.

I love fly fishing.  I love it for a lot of reasons, but the more I do it, the more I realize most of those reasons are tied to two separate and distinct places from my past.  

Two Places

The first is a place from my childhood.  It is the beautiful and surreal parts about the river and the mountains I seek through fly fishing.  Memories of time spent with my  father on a trout stream behind the ranch in Montana.  Leaping cutthoat, flashes of light on the riffles, and a smoky fire to warm us below the aspens.  It’s a beautiful  place, but it’s a place I can’t go back to.  That boy and those times are memories.  I visit them by taking my son to the river, and I hope that he will have what I have someday.  My wife knows this place is a special part of my life.

The second place is a world I left in December of 2019, when I flew my last sortie in the A-10 Warthog.  It’s a world I spent fifteen years building and growing within.  Committed to the close air support mission and the people I worked and fought with.  Twelve hour days and deployments and struggle.  Constantly learning, problem solving, and thinking tactically.  

Revisit Together

My wife knows the second place well.  She was there for all of it.  We were just kids when we got married and left to live overseas together at our first of five fighter squadrons. That journey was ours.  Hers and mine.  There were good and bad times, but the journey was beautiful.  

In a way fly fishing helps me revisit that second place.  It lets me think tactically again, pursuing something I love.  It allows me to learn and try new things.  I can share ideas and meet new people, who are also passionate anglers. Starting Wadeoutthere is a new journey that I look forward to building and growing, because I know what’s possible in the end.  I know the journey is worth it. The second place taught me that.

Will shares a story in this episode when his wife asks why she can’t come on one of the fly fishing trips he takes to help himself and other veterans heal.  She’s been there for everything else,  why cant she be a part of this too?  Great question…

I’m so grateful to Will, or maybe his wife, for helping me see the opportunity I have to revisit that second place and share part of what makes fly fishing special to me, with my wife.


Learn More

Listen to Part 1 of my conversation with Will here:
Veterans, Healing and Community with Will Cannon from The Iron Freedom Foundation. Podcast Ep 93 – Part 1 of 2

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

If you want to see and feel the powerful healing that IFF is enabling watch some of their latest films documenting the journey donated by volunteers:
Iron Freedom Foundation Latest Films

For more information on some of the healing properties of water read these books:
The Nature Fix by Florence Williams
Deep by James Nestor
Blue Mind by Wallace J. Nichols

For more fly fishing stories, lessons learned, and artwork check out my blog and online gallery at:

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.

  • Audrey Wilson – Utah | Casting
  • Eric Estrada – Florida | Tarpon | Salt water art
  • Sam Galt – Pennsylvania
  • Pat Dorsey – Colorado
  • Landon Meyers – Colorado

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

I hope you enjoy listening as much as I enjoyed talking with WIll.


Jason Shemchuk

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