Walleyes, Camaraderie and Healing Highlights Pay It Forward Veterans Event

Category: article

 Sep 6th, 2022 by Keith Worrall 

Modified Sep 6th, 2022 at 12:54 PM

Lake of the Woods County MN (9-6-22) – Every year, there is magic. The environment is created with much attention to detail, which sets the stage. It is veterans spending time with other veterans, however, that creates the magic. Such was the case for 80 veterans at this year’s 2022 Pay It Forward Veterans Event up on Lake of the Woods this past week.

This was the 8th Annual event (with one year off for COVID) which began in 2014.

The purpose of Pay It Forward is to honor, recognize and celebrate all veterans. Organizers, Lake of the Woods Tourism and Fishing For Life, set the stage with two days fishing on charter boats, a variety of delicious meals, lodging at area resorts and some guest speakers who speak about topics pertinent to veterans.

Initially, one might think this event is for veterans severely physically or mentally wounded from combat. And it is, but it is also for those who never saw combat, stayed stateside and served with our armed forces in any way, shape or form.

This event is for all who served. Some veterans who are doing relatively well often defer opportunities like Pay It Forward so those who are “more in need” can attend. Very considerate of course, but what we see more often than not, is there is healing or perhaps a boost of life not anticipated, but appreciated and enjoyed by all veterans who attend.

A variety of passionate guest speakers helped shape this event. Special guests Todd and Eva VanLangen participated in this year’s event. Both are very accomplished veterans and served in combat as special ops overseas.

Eva served in leadership positions both domestically and abroad. She served many roles and eventually retired in 2017 with her final assignment with the 1st Special Forces Command as the Assistant S3 Training/Operations Officer in Afghanistan. She has earned a variety of awards and decorations.

Todd VanLangen was the actual spotter depicted in the movie American Sniper. He is also a sharp shooter, green beret, and has earned 3 bronze stars and a myriad of other awards and decorations.

As important as their accomplishments is the fact, they are down to earth, real, approachable and you would never know their impressive military accolades by meeting them. This opens the door in being able to communicate with and reach veterans.

They are the first to tell veterans to get the help they need and that every veteran is important, regardless of their role. As a veteran, you served, were vital to the overall plan and are just as important as any other veteran. The VanLangens are both ambassadors with BerettaUSA Firearms.

A highlight for veterans to Lake of the Woods is two days fishing on a charter boat. Licensed charter captains led the fishing and it was tremendous with most, if not all, limiting out on walleyes with a variety of pike, bass, and perch in the mix.

This three-night, two-day fishing extravaganza with meals included is complementary to veterans thanks to the generous donations from Lake of the Woods area resorts, guides, various small businesses, organizations and individuals.

If you would like to learn more about Pay It Forward, submit an application for the 2023 event or donate to this veteran’s event, check out www.PayItForwardLOW.org.


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