Basin Electric supports “On the Water,” a non-profit dedicated to honoring war veterans

On the Water, Inc. Founder Chuck Betts presents Jen Holen, Basin Electric charitable giving administrator, with an On the Water challenge coin in appreciation for Basin Electric’s support. Challenge coins are a U.S. military tradition in which service members collect and or exchange them.


Basin Electric “reely” showed its support of military veterans with a recent donation to On the Water, Inc., a North Dakota-based non-profit that honors U.S. war veterans with a free fishing trip at Lake Sakakawea.

On the Water, Inc., was started by Chuck Betts when his fishing invitation to a military veteran turned into Betts’ mission to help veterans.

In 2012, Betts noticed his co-worker, an Iraq war veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), was having a difficult day. So Betts asked him to go fishing.

By the end of the outing, Betts noticed a change in his co-worker’s demeanor, from a hardened veteran who kept things close to his chest, to a person who softened and opened up.

Not long after the fishing trip, Betts founded On the Water, Inc. to honor U.S. veterans who have served in overseas conflicts, and have service-connected disabilities, Purple Hearts, or who were prisoners of war with a free fishing trip on North Dakota’s Lake Sakakawea.

Since 2012, On the Water has honored hundreds of U.S. war veterans with a free fishing trip. All activities are based out of Indian Hills Resort, on the north end of Lake Sakakawea.

“Just taking them out for a day, they open up,” Betts says.

Betts’ mission to give back to veterans is assisted by a fleet of volunteer captains who donate their time, their fishing boat, and gas to take the veterans on a fishing expedition. In addition, all captains donate any fish they catch during the outing to the veterans.

“Our volunteers are just that – volunteers. They don’t get paid for gas or any related expense,” Betts says. “Everything we raise goes to the veterans.”

Last year alone, 68 veterans participated. This year, the event was expanded to two days: June 15 and August 10.

Each event has a limit of 28 veterans, which helps keep the events small to make them more comfortable for veterans suffering with PTSD. The small event size keeps it more personal, too.

According to Betts, most participants are from western North Dakota, and some have traveled from as far away as Sioux City, Iowa.

This year’s participants include two World War II veterans, along with veterans who served in the Korean War, Vietnam War, and the Iraq War.


  1. pressingspeech says:

    Being out in nature without all the distractions is good for all of us and a really nice thing to offer Vets. It would be great for kids in cities too. I’m not a very good fisherman but I’ve done some personal reflecting on the water with a rod in my hand. That was good enough for me. 😉

  2. Claude O’Berry says:

    My son who is a Purple Heart Vet has participated in this event. He says that the volunteer captains provide equipment and all the tackle along with making the Vets feel comfortable and appreciated. I felt pride in sharing with him that my employer is one of the sponsors. From both of us, we say “Thank You Basin.”

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