Outdoor Adventures for Military Heroes has organized a variety of expeditions in 2014 for combat veterans from Wasco County who have sustained an injury in war – but people have not been signing up.
“I need names because I want men and women who have served to have these opportunities,” said Fred Coleman, president of the nonprofit organization and a National Guard veteran. “If we don’t get more veterans to come forward, then the few who have already signed up are not going to get to do everything.”
He said three veterans with either physical disabilities or the hidden wounds of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and TBI (Traumatic Brain Injuries) are now engaged in turkey hunting trips.
But six veterans are still needed for elk and doe hunting in the fall, six for salmon fishing, up to 10 for a camping trip that will also include bass fishing and trap shooting and four for white water rafting.
“Most veterans are pretty independent and I think there is a hesitation to ask for something when they think someone else might benefit more,” said Coleman. “But we are standing by to give veterans from Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan this opportunity and we want to encourage them to come forward.”
He said names submitted by veterans are thrown into a hat and drawn by a lottery system for each event. Veterans can ask to participate in only one endeavor or all of the activities. If their name is not drawn, they can have it automatically resubmitted for next year’s drawing.
“This is our way of saying ‘Thank you’ to our veterans, and these are quality adventures,” said Coleman.
He said there is no cost for a veteran to participate. Accommodations are made for any disability an individual may have. On last year’s inaugural hunt, one of the Army veterans had lost a leg in Iraq and another had chronic back and leg pain after being injured by hand-to-hand combat, also in Iraq.
Eligible veterans do not have to be wounded to that extent, said Coleman, they need only have some type of condition caused by war that is creating challenges for daily living. He said the idea behind hunts and other activities is to provide a place for veterans to gather with others who have been through a hard time, and enjoy being spoiled a little.
He said some of the veterans who participated in last year’s hunt have become friends and gotten together for other social time, an added benefit of the gathering.
The list of landowners in south county who have offered to provide space for the camps is long, said Coleman, and none of the activities would be possible without their generosity.
“If anyone knows of a veteran who could benefit from what we are doing, please let us know,” he said.
With about 3,000 veterans in Wasco County, Coleman said there are a lot of men and women who deserve some special attention. He is hoping to get these individuals signed up by May 15 if possible so plans can be finalized.
Eventually, he said the territory where veterans must reside to be eligible will be expanded, but Outdoor Adventures wants to be sure that the first opportunities go to local people.
Coleman can be contacted at medichunter@
hotmail.com or veterans can send a participation request to: Outdoor Adventures for Military Heroes, P.O. Box 9, The Dalles, OR. 97058.