by John Boch
Guns Save Life is proud to be one of the major sponsors of a Central Illinois Healing Outside of a Hospital (HOOAH) group, HOOAH Deer Hunt for Heroes.
Their appreciation dinner was held Sunday evening, and my wife and I had the pleasure of attending to represent Guns Save Life. The dinner recognized those who made the second year of the local program a success – everyone from the volunteer hunting guides and mentors to those providing logistical support for the various events held throughout the year – along with those who donated everything needed for the program.
It was the end of a week-long excursion for eight “wounded warriors” from Ft. Campbell, Kentucky. All are recovering from life-changing injuries sustained in battle. Forging relationships and camaraderie is the main purpose of this program… It’s vets talking with vets about their problems and fears while enjoying the great outdoors, helping them with the mental aspects of healing.
Over several days, the men hunted pheasants, deer, claybirds and positive life-changing experiences.
The soldiers thanked those who made it possible, including us at Guns Save Life, during the emotional night. “This program helps more than you will ever know,” was the common theme. It made me proud we could do this for them again and we as Guns Save Life are one of their biggest single sponsors. Their program is growing too, rapidly.
The participants from Ft. Campbell, Kentucky offered nothing but the highest praise for the volunteers to help with the program. Those wounded warriors said that they considered those who served as guides and camp counselors of sorts for the events not friends, but instead family.
“Why would you do this for us?” one soldier asked privately. “You don’t even know us.”
The answer he got: “Why did you serve your country?”
Enjoy the video from their biggest event of 2014. It does a nice job giving you a behind the scenes look at what this program means for these men.
The Bloomington, IL Pantagraph covered the hunt in yesterday’s edition.
Here’s a teaser:
FUNKS GROVE (Bloomington Pantagraph) — William White loaded an arrow into his gas-powered crossbow, took aim and pressed the trigger.
The deer fell. It was White’s first in three years of coming up empty.
Never mind that White is missing an arm and a leg. The U.S. Marine sergeant, a veteran of Beirut, Bosnia and Somalia, thanked a small band of soldiers and civilian volunteers who restored him to wholeness, if only for a day.
“It’s always good to find a friend when you need one,” said White, of Wood Dale, as he recognized the HOOAH Deer Hunt for Heroes program.
HOOAH is a local offshoot of the U.S. Army’s “Healing Outside Of A Hospital” program. Four Army specialists spent last week working with local founder Tom Huffington of McLean to set up a week of hunting for eight injured warriors at Funks Grove.
…Josue Cordova, a U.S. Air Force veteran from Naperville, received instruction on how to fire a crossbow from John Masters, a civilian volunteer from Bloomington.
“A lot of people ask why we need to hunt or do other military related pastimes,” Cordova said. “This really isn’t so much about hunting. It’s about reliving some of the teamwork and camaraderie that so many of us miss when we were in the military.”
He added, “When you wake up in an Army hospital bed and someone tells you that you aren’t going to walk any longer, you lose something no one else could ever relate to.
“Programs like HOOAH put some meaning back into your life,” he said. “It made me want to get up and get out of my bed and get out from in front of a television set.”
Photos via YouTube.