Military Embedded Systems

GIVING BACK: Rifles to Rods


December 01, 2022

Lisa Daigle

Assistant Managing Editor

Military Embedded Systems

GIVING BACK: Rifles to Rods

Each issue, the editorial staff of Military Embedded Systems will highlight a different charitable organization that benefits the military, veterans, and their families. We are honored to cover the technology that protects those who protect us every day.

This issue, we are highlighting Rifles to Rods (RtR), an organization that provides high-quality fishing experiences for military veterans at no charge. RtR’s mission is to connect veterans with their local fishing communities, enabling them to meet like-minded people, teach them a new skill set, and improve their post-deployment mental health.

RtR co-founder Ryan Puzzo, a former U.S. Army sergeant who returned from deployment in Afghanistan following his service in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, found that transitioning stateside was difficult: “It’s tough transitioning back to civilian life. Overseas, you have a mission and a purpose, back home no one gets it or understands the sacrifice you made,” Puzzo says.

Puzzo and a friend, Gerard McAllister, found that fishing offered an escape from the stress of everyday life. Together the pair decided to found a nonprofit dedicated to sharing with veterans the physical and mental benefits that fishing can provide. RtR’s fishing trips and instruction strive, according to the organization’s materials, to offer veteran participants relief from anxiety, pain, and depression; improved mental clarity; and overall feelings of well-being.

Rifles to Rods [a federally certified 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization] is based in Massachusetts but serves vets from all over and is poised to expand outside of New England. It is also a 100% volunteer organization. From fly fishing in the freshwater rivers of New England and going out on the ocean off Cape Cod to supplying free fishing gear and licenses to veterans, RtR aims to embody its motto by getting veterans out onto the water to “put a rod in their hand and a smile on their face.”

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