SCRUGGS, Va. (WFXR) — Sometimes fishing is not really about fishing. Sometimes it’s about something much more special, like saying “thanks.”

The quality of life we realize here in the United States is very good when compared to the rest of the world; so good that we may take it for granted.

But, there are those among us who are willing to risk their lives to secure the lives we all enjoy. We’re talking about military veterans.

Recently, there was a very special way to tell those vets thank you; a fishing tournament on Smith Mountain Lake.

The second annual Fishing for the Fallen Striped Bass Tournament was held for veterans by the group, The Fallen Outdoors. It is an organization that provides outdoors adventures like hunting and fishing trips to vets, free of charge.

“It’s more about brotherhood and getting together with fellow brothers and sisters than it is about fishing,” said Ducky Lique, the Fallen Outdoors Western Region coordinator.

That was a sentiment other veterans echoed.

“I’m very grateful for this trip, being able to interact with other veterans, get to know some of the other veterans in the community,” said Army vet Hank Burns. “It’s a blessing.”

Army Vet Hank Burns with a striped bass from SML

“It’s awesome,” added another Army vet, Eric Hagee. “It’s fun to get out and socialize with other vets, being out on the water for a day.”

Local anglers and fishing guides volunteered their time, boats, and expertise to make the tournament happen. Many of them them were military vets themselves. Capt. John Mathena of Patriot Fishing Charters is one of the volunteers, as well as an Army veteran.

“It means a lot to them,” said Mathena. “That’s the best part because at the end of the day, we had two vets with us, and they were both like, it’s just been a great day.”

The Fallen Outdoors runs events throughout the year, including hunting, fishing, and golf outings.