Captain goes bass fishing with veterans

By John Lyon, jlyon@local10.com
Published On: Feb 08 2013 06:26:35 PM EST
Updated On: Feb 08 2013 11:00:00 PM EST

Twice a week, Captain Neal Stark takes time off from his job as a hair dresser, and goes fishing with some of America's finest.

MIAMI -

Twice a week, Captain Neal Stark takes time off from his job as a hair dresser, and goes fishing with some of America's finest.

Stark said he's offering a day of peace and quiet bass fishing in the Everglades, and pays most of the costs himself.

"It's something I started as a way to give back and pay it forward to the men and women that defend this country," said Stark.

Stark has gone fishing with more than 200 service men and women over the last four years at no charge to them with lunch is included.

"When I found out it was completely legit I was like OK, I'll try it," said Moises Castro, a Navy veteran. "Captain Neal's helped me to come out of my shell, to enjoy life the way it's supposed to be. Coming out on these fishing trips just helps me a lot. It makes me feel good about myself."

Castro said he has symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. His service dog Salsa helps him deal with the anxiety.

"Salsa makes it easier for me and Captain Neal just it great for her to come out," said Castro. "You see that she likes licking the fish. We give her that once in a while."

"You could see where some of these men and women have heaviness, they tend to get lost a little bit. This is something that I found it's a way to help them reconnect and find their way home," said Stark.

Gulf War veteran Steve Ligeikis has short-term memory loss. Trips fishing help him cope with it.

"For a couple of days a week, I can come away from this and have fewer flashbacks, fewer nightmares and I cannot stress the value of just that beneficial effect," said Ligeikis, who served in the Army.

Captain Neal runs the program mostly by himself, and said it's important for him to give back.

"It takes a special person to do that and it makes me feel good and proud to be a veteran and just to, it's a nice way to say thank you," said Castro.

Captain Neal is ready to say thank you to any service man or woman who wants to go out. He said they just need to bring their military identification.

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