Bay Area fishing charter captain casts lifeline to fellow veterans

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - After years of bravely serving his country, Jon Castor, has found solace and purpose in fishing. He wants to share his passion with other veterans in hopes it will transform their lives too.

Captain Castor is a Coast Guard veteran who loves sailing on the open seas. He has been fishing since he was 14 years old.

"Being by the water in itself is just a natural, peaceful thing, just hearing the water, hearing in the waves. It's just it's a way to be able to go out there and also find yourself," Castor said.

Castor joined the Coast Guard in 2003, and, after retiring, he started his own business running charters out of St. Pete Beach.

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"It's extremely relaxing," Castor said. "It's, you know, it's peaceful."

During one of his fishing trips, Castor had an epiphany. He wanted to share this healing experience with his fellow veterans.

"When you have veterans that come home, they've got PTSD, they've got mental issues," Castor explained. "They've got, you know, a lot of personal things going on. There's not too much help out there."

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So, he decided to offer help by providing free fishing trips for veterans. He calls his grass-roots effort "Band of Brothers Fishing."

"It's almost like group therapy, but in, you know, a more positive setting and to where we can bond and build relationships. You build memories," Castor shared.

Brandon Douglas hopes to find friends. He served as a U.S. Army Reserve for a decade, including combat in Iraq War. He suffers from PTSD because of his experiences in battles.

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"When you have someone that goes through those same battles that you do and can share those experiences, it's nice, you know, you got someone that that will listen to you and that knows what you've been through," Douglas shared.

For Douglas, the trips are a much-needed lifeline.

"It's a beautiful thing, you know, that way veterans can come together, and have somewhere to escape the, you know, reality for a while and just have a good time and bond," Douglas explained.

Shell Point Marina is lending a hand by offering free boat storage.

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"We do it because we find it’s a way to give back to the community, and it's very important," said Melter Hughes, the manager of Shell Point Marine. "Our veterans are important to us. And they are the reason that, you know, we're here. America is here."

"It gave them a peace of mind to, as a refresher, to be able to come back after the trip to society and be able to feel more positive," Castor said.

Castor continues his mission, casting his line into the waters of compassion and hope, one fishing trip at a time.

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Castor pays for all the cost of the trips but can use assistance.

Click here to learn more about Band of Brothers Fishing and how to help.

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