What We Do

Wounded Hero Fishing System

The “Wounded Hero Fishing System” was designed by the Reel American Heroes Foundation Executive Director, Ron DeFreitas and Carl Foster of CFMI in Lorton, Virginia. The “Wounded Hero Fishing System” has been thoroughly tested by members of RAHF and also by some wounded heroes that were given the system to fish with.

RAHF produced two prototype models prior to deploying our new production models with some recommended changes that we received from our wounded heroes. The system consists of a Lew’s “American Hero” fishing rod and a fully customized, battery powered electric fishing reel.

Travis Mills

Wounded US Army Staff Sergeant Warrior

Retired United States Army Staff Sergeant Travis Mills of the 82nd Airborne is a wounded warrior, motivational speaker, actor, and an advocate for veterans and amputees. Despite losing portions of both arms and legs from an IED while on active duty in Afghanistan, Travis continues to overcome life’s challenges, breaking physical barriers and defying odds. Travis lives by his motto: “Never give up. Never quit.”

Annual Maine BASS Federation Banquet

Reel American Heroes Foundation members Mark Osgood and Joe Holland presented wounded hero SSG Travis Mills with the first left handed “Wounded Hero Fishing System” on November 16th at the Annual Maine BASS Federation Banquet. Our “Wounded Hero Fishing System” was designed by the Reel American Heroes Foundation Executive Director, Ron DeFreitas and Carl Foster of CFMI in Lorton, Virginia. The “Wounded Hero Fishing System” has been thoroughly tested by members of RAHF and also by some wounded heroes that were given the system to fish with.

RAHF produced two prototype models prior to deploying our new production models with some recommended changes that we received from our wounded heroes. The system consists of a Lew’s “American Hero” fishing rod and a fully customized, battery powered electric fishing reel. Mark and Joe also presented Travis with a tackle box full of lures, baits and terminal tackle for him to fish with.

In addition to receiving the “Wounded Hero Fishing System” Travis was recognized as an honorary member of the Reel American Heroes Foundation and presented with a TEAM RAHF tournament jersey that was manufactured and donated to him by Rayjus Outdoors. This recognition was for his personal work in bringing wounded servicemen and women together with bass fishermen so that other wounded heroes could benefit from the recreational therapy that fishing provides.

I was so touched when I took two wounded heroes fishing last year, it just simply changed my life. After the photo session, Travis was herd saying that he was now able to fish with his daughter for the first time. That alone was enough to bring me to tears.

Mark J Osgood
TEAM RAHF Member

Ronny Porta

Wounded United States Marine Corporal Warrior

The Reel American Heroes Foundation is making a big difference in the lives of our nation’s wounded servicemen. Founder and Executive Director Ronald R. DeFreitas was invited to attend a special military ceremony on October 3,2013 at the Officers Club at Quantico Marine Corps Base to honor Corporal. Ronny Porta, a wounded Marine, for the sacrifices he has made defending our freedom while serving in Iraq. Some of the military officers and distinguished individuals in attendance at this ceremony were Colonel Willard A. Buhl, Commander of the Wounded Warrior Regiment, First Lady of the Marine Corps, Mrs. Bonnie Amos and Commandant of the Marine Corps, General James F. Amos.

Mr. DeFreitas was asked to attend this event because of his dedication and commitment to providing recreational therapy for our nation’s wounded warriors over the last three years. At this ceremony Mr. DeFreitas presented Corporal Ronny Porta with our “Wounded Hero Fishing System” so Ronny could begin fishing again and enjoy the benefits of the recreational therapy that fishing provides The Reel American Heroes Foundation has been working for the last 6 months with both CFMI, Shimano and Lew’s Fishing to modify existing designs and adapt them for use by our wounded heroes. Corporal Ronny Porta was presented with one of only two prototypes currently available. We asked Corporal Ronny Porta to evaluate our Wounded Hero Fishing System and make recommendations on how we should improve this system for use by any wounded hero that could benefit from using one.

Colonel Willard A. Buhl, General James F. Amos and First Lady Bonnie Amos were excited to hear about the recreational therapy the Reel American Heroes Foundation has been providing over the last three years and to see the new technology that we introduced for use by our wounded heroes. Mr. DeFreitas is looking forward to bringing this fishing technology to production in the next few months and he hopes to make it available to any of our wounded heroess that can benefit from using the “Wounded Hero Fishing System”.

The Reel American Heroes Foundation is a 100% volunteer 501(c)(3) nonprofit foundation based in Woodbridge, Virginia. If you would like additional information about this press release or the Reel American Heroes Foundation, please email Ronald R. DeFreitas at rdefreitas@reelamericanheroes.org

Patrick Hanley

Wounded Army Specialist Warrior

Army Specialist Patrick Hanley was the first wounded hero to receive both a prototype “Wounded Hero Fishing System” as well as our very first production “Wounded Hero Fishing System”. Patrick was invited to go fishing with a guide service on Lake Anna where he was able to catch his first striped bass using our “Wounded Hero Fishing System”.

Please read the review below to see the difference being able to fish again has made in Patrick’s life after loosing an arm in Iraq. Ed Harris, Patrick’s father posted the following review on www.greatnonprofits.org.

Army Specialist Patrick Hanley’s review of the Reel American Heroes Foundation

My son, Patrick, is a 100% disabled Iraq veteran who, after four years in military hospitals and rehab programs, was declared “incapable of independent living”. Viewing the Army’s judgment as a challenge, my son now lives on his own, has a full time job, drives a car, and has an active, largely independent life despite the loss of an arm and the after-effects of a traumatic brain injury. Still, some activities that he once enjoyed remained frustratingly out of reach despite his best efforts. Fishing was on the “impossible” list because you just can’t cast and retrieve with only one arm. Now, however, due to the generosity and hard work of the Reel American Heroes Foundation, Patrick is once again looking forward to fishing season.

Before Pat deployed to Iraq, fishing was one of the things that we most enjoyed doing together, so when he was finally discharged after four years in military hospitals and clinics we immediately began trying to figure out ways to go fishing again. We tried all sorts of methods and products for more than a year, but they were all either impractical or left him dependent on me at critical moments. Then, a friend told me about the Reel American Heroes Foundation. We called the Foundation, hoping for little more than ideas, maybe a lead to a supplier. A mere three weeks later, Ron DeFreitas and his dynamic team showed up on our doorstep with a solution in hand. They had found a guy working out of his garage who work with Ron to develope a spinning reel powered by a tiny electric motor and had convinced him to donate a working prototype to Pat. Ron also brought along a brand new spinning rod and a tackle box full of all the right lures and other essentials.

Ron then invited us to the Foundation’s upcoming bass tournament on the Potomac River. I honestly expected Pat to decline since he does not always do well in crowded, noisy settings and often finds all-day events too taxing. But, he decided it was his duty to go given the Foundation’s generosity. In truth, we thought there might be a couple of dozen boats driven by some well-meaning weekend fishermen like me, that Pat would fish for an hour or two, and then we would be free to leave. To us, that seemed reasonable to expect from volunteers who also hold down full time jobs in the local school system and similar places. As it turns out, we were way off.

When we arrived at the marina, 60+ top-of-the-line bass boats were maneuvering for a spot in the launch queue, most driven by top bass pros and guides from the Mid Atlantic region. The very gracious Timmy Horton, one of America’s top bass pros, was there with his TV crew to greet Patrick. Patrick went fishing and, while he didn’t catch much, he did master the electric reel and he had a ball. We then enjoyed a huge BBQ luncheon and watched in awe at the quality of the prizes awarded – the very best in sporting equipment and electronics that Ron and company had persuaded local businesses and national manufacturers to donate. Pat stayed all day and enjoyed every minute – probably his first dawn to dark day since he left Iraq.

In my family’s experience, “wounded warrior” events are often one-time things, mostly big fund-raising dinners full of celebrities, where the soldiers sit in the back of the room and are introduced before the big speech. Not so with the Reel American Heroes Foundation. Ron and his team were in touch constantly before the tournament making sure Pat had what he needed and have followed up repeatedly to perfect the Pat’s equipment so he can fish with the independence he enjoyed before he was injured. One of the saddest effects of combat is that our men and women often blame themselves for the horrors they experienced on our behalf. Some even blame themselves for their own wounds. Helping them lift the burden of this guilt and depression takes time and requires the personal warmth, empathy, and sustained support that is the Foundation’s SOP.