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Wounded Veterans Participate In Therapeutic Bear Hunts Thanks To Hope For The Warriors

Hope For The Warrior volunteer Dave Williams leads two veterans on a five mile hike through an Idaho forest.

IDAHO (July 25, 2017) – Thanks to the national nonprofit Hope For The Warriors and its Outdoor Adventures program, six combat wounded veterans recently participated in three, multi-day, bear hunts South of Lewiston, Idaho along the Selway River.

Hope For The Warriors’ Outdoor Adventures program provides adaptive opportunities for wounded heroes to participate in sporting activities in the great outdoors. Service members, who previously embraced an outdoorsman lifestyle, as well as those new to traditional outdoor sports, are introduced to recreational opportunities on the road to recovery.

Led by Hope For The Warriors Director of Outdoor Adventure and retired Marine, Ken Sutherby, each hunt aimed to enable wounded veterans with a challenge, introduce a sense of camaraderie with other veterans and provide a source of food for each hunter’s family. In addition, the experience encourages healing and aims to revitalize each veteran by proving he/she are capable and can be independent, regardless of injuries.

Sutherby shares why this experience is so beneficial to veterans, “Hunting is a therapeutic avenue for many veterans. Often, veterans are experiencing extreme social isolation as they assimilate to post-combat life resulting in declining self-worth as they evaluate their current lifestyle compared to their former military life. Therefore, they are excited with the challenge and placed back in a position of leadership and trust as they alone are responsible for the outcome.

“In addition, as we make the long drives up the mountain roads or sit around the camp fire, the hunts provide a chance to address any and all areas of conflict in their lives and communicate with other wounded veterans who have experienced the same effects of combat and have fought the same battle to recovery,” adds Sutherby.

San Antonio, Texas-based Army Master Sergeant Raymond Soto shares what this experience meant to him. “Attending the bear hunt was a therapeutic and great time spent with other wounded veterans, said Soto.

“With its never ending distractions, life moves too fast and spending time with other combat veterans in a peaceful quiet place like Idaho was what I needed. Sharing memories and knowing that we all carry some sort of continuous pain, emotional and/or physical, it’s always a therapeutic experience when we get together and feel that bond that we all miss.

“In addition, I spent 11.5 hours in a tree stand with no cell phone service or internet so it allowed me to enjoy the peaceful outdoors reflecting on my deployments and those brothers that are no longer with us. I needed the time; being completely alone and just remembering,” adds Soto.

Hope For The Warriors created the Outdoor Adventures Program in 2010 to provide adaptive opportunities for wounded heroes to participate in sporting activities in the great outdoors. In 2012, the organization recognized the therapeutic benefits for the family members and expanded the program to include spouses and children of wounded and fallen service members.

To make a donation to the Hope For The Warriors Outdoor Adventures program or for more information, visit hopeforthewarriors.org/sports-recreation/outdoor-adventures/ or hopeforthewarriors.org, Facebook or Twitter.


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