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USA TODAY SPECIAL EDITION

CONNECTIONS

HUNTING TO HEAL

Many wounded warriors, veterans find camaraderie, comfort in the great outdoors By Ken Perrotte

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OME 53,000 MILITARY MEMBERS — more than 32,000 in Iraq and nearly 21,000 in Afghanistan — have been wounded in action since Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom began. Many of those with severe injuries wonder whether they’ll ever be able to resume any semblance of the lifestyle they previously enjoyed. Learning to live with loss of limbs, nerve damage and severe physical and mental trauma can take years of therapy and incredible perseverance. Supportive medical staff, family and friends nurture the process. Many military members were avid hunters, anglers and recreational shooters before their injuries. Fortunately, numerous nonprofit organizations have emerged throughout the past decade to help wounded warriors regain access to those outdoors passions. And for veterans seeking new outlets and experiences, these three nonprofit programs offer a path to increased self-reliance and adventure:

HONORED AMERICAN VETERANS AFIELD

The catalyst for Honored American Veterans Afield (HAVA) came a decade ago when four wounded veterans were invited to join outdoors writers on a hunt sponsored by a few companies affiliated with the shooting sports industry. “Everyone agreed we needed to find a way to do this in a bigger way,” said Tom Taylor, HAVA’s chairman and then an executive with Smith & Wesson. Six companies pooled resources and created HAVA. From those six (Smith & Wesson, Leupold, Hornady, Crimson Trace, Yamaha Outdoors and Surefire), HAVA’s sustaining sponsors have more than tripled. Based out of Massachusetts, the organization operates nationwide. HAVA helps disabled soldiers as they transition into civilian life, facilitating their confidence and reconnecting them with their love of the outdoors and the American tradition of hunting. With the

Honored American Veterans Afield teaches adaptive shooting and hunting skills. HONORED AMERICAN VETERANS AFIELD

CO N T I N U E D

Profile for STUDIO Gannett

VETERANS AFFAIRS 2017  

VETERANS AFFAIRS 2017