In an era when modern warfare involves child suicide bombers and two wars spanning most of a decade, more than 100,000 American soldiers have returned home with major injuries and post-traumatic stress.
Amid the cacophony of treatments, state officials tackled a simpler therapy in Los Alamitos Friday: fishing.
A Marine suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome received a special gift from the state — a discount fishing license. Staff Sgt. Darrell Rushing became the first person in the California to take part in a new state Department of Fish and Wildlife program that offers reduced-fee sport fishing and hunting licenses to service members who are recovering from service-related injury or illness.
Rushing, a 10-year Marine veteran and sniper, picked up his license at the Department office at 4665 Lampson Avenue, according Andrew Hughan, department public information officer.
The new discount program officially went into effect Jan. 1 after Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law in September, allowing the department to issue the discount licenses.
“It’s important because fishing is very calming, soothing recreational activity,” Hughan said. “Anything that the department can do to help these guys adjust back to civilian life or back to life in the states, we are on board with doing.”
Rushing, who is undergoing treatment at Camp Pendleton, paid $6.35 for the license, instead of the normal fee, which is about $40 more.
While a normal license stays valid for a year, Rushing’s license remains valid until his treatment ends and he gets out of the Marine corps in 2014, Hughan added.
Rushing received the license in a ceremony with Sen. Lou Correa, (D-Santa Ana) and former state Sen. Tom Harman, (R- Huntington Beach)
Interested service members may purchase the discounted licenses at the department’s website or at a department office. Applicants need a military ID and a letter from the commander of the hospital or a letter from the doctor showing the service member is undergoing treatment.