WHITTIER -- A Whittier charter boat fishing captain is organizing another Alaska fishing tournament aimed at helping veterans who served in Iraq, Afghanistan and during Desert Storm.
Charter boat captains from Homer, Whittier and Valdez will join forces in the Alaskan Veterans Fishing Tournament next year to offer free halibut trips for veterans. Organizer Jack Roskind of Knot Roughin' It Charters said 40 charters have already pledged support. He expects others to join before the May 21 event.
Roskind and Kurt Schwab, national director of Veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, hope more than 500 veterans will get a free day on the water.
Earlier this year in Seward, Armed Services Combat Fishing Tournament attracted nearly 400 veterans for a day of halibut fishing out of Resurrection Bay with about 30 boats donating their services. That tournament, billed by organizers as the biggest in the country of its kind, was in its third year. A 183-pound fish earned the top spot.
"The fact was that one community, Seward, was doing something for the military," Roskind said. "We wanted to all join together."
Roskind said he hopes the similar tournaments will join forces in 2011.
In addition to the fishing, a benefit concert is planned for the night before featuring Nashville musician Lucas Hoge and actress Laura Lynn. Both have toured military installations in Iraq, Kuwait and Kosovo.
"Our goal is to provide help, support and direction for all returning veterans," Schwab said in a press release. "Today, we hear of veterans committing suicide because they are unable to cope with their families, their friends, or general living due to always being on edge. We want to help them cope."
Veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom is a nonprofit that helps veterans with education, jobs, health care, domestic issues and housing, among others. To register for a fishing trip or get more information, see the organization's Web site at www.voief.org or contact Roskind at 529-5174.