Juan Rubio says that 2 years ago his wife Jennifer Rubio had an idea that has blossomed into a way to help veterans, “Jennifer signed us up for a class in Dallas where they taught us how to build fishing rods. Now we build custom fishing poles for disabled veterans.”

The Rubios named their non-profit, “Fish’n With Docs.” The Rubios are both veterans of the US Navy and both were Corpsmen. In the Navy, the corpsmen are the medics who accompany naval personnel and Marines on combat actions. Juan served 10 years in the Navy, deploying twice to Iraq and once to Afghanistan. Jennifer spent 16 years in the Navy. Juan was a nurse prior to joining the Navy. He joined the Navy in 1999, “I was stationed in the naval hospital in Bethesda when 9/11 happened and I made the decision that I wanted to be a Corpsman. I had orders to become a lab technician but I knew something big was coming and I wanted to be part of it. So, with my experience in the civilian sector, I volunteered to go with the Marines.”

For Rubio building a fishing rod is more than a hobby, more than a passion; It helps Rubio deal with his PTSD and other injuries that he received during the war, “I can go into the shop and build a rod and that makes me focus. When I focus on the work, it helps me forget the nightmares that I had the night before. It requires my total concentration and the work is rewarding. It helps with my memory retention and hand-eye coordination. If I get to a point where I’m getting frustrated, I just take a step back, put my hands on my hips, drink a cup of water and then pick up where I left off. I went fishing at Lake Amistad with a fishing pole that I built. The first fish I caught was a 5 or 6 lbs bass. I was so proud of it. We use a high quality blank to build the fishing poles with and I don’t know if I could have landed that fish with an off-the-rack fishing pole from a store. It was a special day because it was also our anniversary. It was a great feeling to know that I built something and I was able to use my knowledge to find a good area to fish. It was a good feeling with the game plan came together. It was a great feeling and I’m thinking about retiring that fishing pole.”

Rubio says that getting out of the Navy was a challenging transition, “Due to my injuries in my deployment the Navy saw fit to give me a medical discharge. My wife was a Corpsman for 16 years. If it wasn’t for her I would have been lost. My passion was to take care of people. When the Navy decided that I wasn’t fit for deployment I was heartbroken because I wasn’t taking care of people anymore. Just like a lot of other service members who fought for their country, one minute you’re in the military and then you’re gone. I was left with PTSD, a traumatic brain injury, anxiety disorders and things like that. I enjoyed my service and I wouldn’t change a single thing. I don’t ever regret any of the decisions that I made.“

Rubio is a San Angelo native and joined the military from there, “I’m from San Angelo. I was born in Ft. Polk but two months after I was born, my family moved here. My roots are here.”

Rubio says that combat veterans were their motivation for ‘Fish’n’ With Docs,’ “Jennifer and I came up with Fish’n with Docs to help combat veterans to be able to have an outlet other than turning to self-medication or any other self-destructive behavior. It’s a custom fishing rod, something that is personal to them and you can’t put a monetary value on that.”

One issue with the VA system is that you’re just one of a few dozen people that a therapist, counselor or doctor is going to see during that day. You’re in the clinic, finish up your appointment and the go home to deal with your nightmares and other issues until the next appointment, “Thank you for your service.” Building a fishing rod specifically for a particular veteran removes that veil of anonymity. Rubio says that shows that someone values your service, “It allows the service member to say, ‘Wow, my actions and my service meant something to somebody, to be able to make something so beautiful for me, rather than just getting a pat on the back.’ A lot of our service members who served in combat were trained to do one thing and one thing only, and a lot of that doesn’t translate to civilian jobs. This is a way to honor them and to thank them. With Jennifer and I being Corpsman, we want to place service members in an environment where they aren’t stressed, where they can still have camaraderie with others. With ‘Fish’n With Docs,’ they can have confidence and be away from stress for a few hours.”

Jennifer says that they wanted to go into rod building because they wanted to be able to do things for others, “I didn’t expect it to be as detailed as it was and it was great. Now we get to meet and help a lot of fellow veterans.”

The Rubios live up to their mission, “Fish’n with Docs is a unique veteran service organization comprised entirely of veterans. The mission of Corpsman Up! Custom Rods & Fishing is to foster an environment of goodwill and camaraderie among combat veterans, promote patriotism and provide combat veterans with the ability to escape life’s turmoils by fishing and relaxing.”

If you are interested in supporting Fish’n With Docs, you can contact Rubio at 325-227-2051 or look Fish’n With Docs up on Facebook.