Recent events in Chattanooga have compelled most of us to be more aware of our military men and women and the dangers they face. Thousands of these men and women have been overseas and have witnessed the horrors of war, and far too many have sustained injuries.
There are many ways to show gratitude and give back in some way to these injured warriors. The Chattanooga based Tennessee Valley SCI Chapter is holding a Sporting Clays Fun Shoot Fundraiser to generate funding for the 2015 “Hunt for Warriors”.
“We strive to give the warriors on these hunts the best of everything that we can afford and that takes dollars” says Chapter Treasurer Chris Willmore.
The Tennessee Valley SCI Chapter, in cooperation with the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency, has been quietly giving back for the last several years by hosting groups of injured warriors during the “Hunts for Warriors,” a whitetail deer management hunt in the Chattanooga area.
“It really is life-changing,” said SSG. Matthew Taylor.
SSG Taylor was one of the 25 participants in the 2012 Hunts for Warriors. Prior to that, he was serving in Afghanistan when he was seriously injured in a helicopter accident, suffering severe nerve damage to his ride side.
What he didn’t know about was the level of commitment and caring from members of the local Safari Club chapter. Not only does the private conservation group donate thousands of dollars to house, feed and entertain the soldiers during their hunt. The organization coordinates volunteers so that each and every soldier/hunter has an individual “guide” to help them every step of the way. The goal is to allow the wounded soldiers “to feel like rock stars for a weekend.”
Most of the veterans participating in these hunts are members of the Transition Battalion, Ft Campbell KY, and participate in the HOOAH (Healing Outside Of a Hospital).
“That hunt more or less saved my life,” said SSG Taylor. “It was one of the first times I was able to forget about my pain. It’s been absolutely amazing. I have soldiers tell me all the time the same is true for them.”
SSG Taylor isn’t in a wheelchair anymore and has even thrown away his cane. He credits his recovery, at least in part, to the inspiration he received through these hunts.
Last year volunteer Tony Sanders, host of the “Tony Sanders Outdoors” radio show on WGOW, accompanied Jamie Gapp (right), a veteran who had never been deer hunting.
“Helping Jamie harvest a deer was an amazing moment for me,” Sanders said. “To see the smile on his face, embracing him as the emotions of the harvest came over him, are things I can’t really explain. I am the one who needs to be thanking him for letting me have the privilege of hunting with a true hero.”
Last year a Hunt for Warriors was also held at Fall Creek Falls State Park. Both hunts were conducted with the objective of improving herd health and offering an opportunity for outdoors based healing and recuperation for wounded veterans.
SCI Chapter President Keith Watson said, “Many lasting friendships have been made and lives impacted by these opportunities.”
You can learn more about the nationally recognized program and their compelling stories HERE.
The Chapter partners with TWRA by providing a hunting partner for each hunter, providing three meals a day, and assisting with any special needs. Each warrior receives a gift bag and drawings are held for great prizes.
The Sporting Clay Fundraiser will be held Saturday, August 22 at 8:00 am ant Montlake Classic Clays on Mowbray Mountain. A donation of $500 is requested for each 4-person team. Ammunition is provided. Awards for 1st -3rd will be presented. Lunch and gift bags are provided. Each registered participant will be entered in a drawing for various prizes and one lucky shooter will win a shotgun. CLICK HERE for more details or to register.
“The Chapter welcomes everyone to participate, regardless of experience,” said Watson. “This is a fun event raising money for our wounded warriors, and I encourage everyone to come out and enjoy a morning of sporting clays while contributing to a worthy cause.”