Written By: John McAdams,
Featured In: Big Game Hunting Blog
The buck knew something was amiss, but it wasn’t quite sure what was going on. While the buck stared her down, Betty prepared to take a shot with her rifle. She popped the lens covers off the scope, adjusted her glasses, took the safety off, and took aim. She squeezed the trigger and the .260 Remington rifle barked, sending a bullet straight into the buck’s shoulder.
The deer instantly dropped at the shot. The whole string of events, from spotting the buck to taking the shot, only lasted a few seconds. Betty’s deer hunt, which took place near Roseburg, Oregon, had just ended with tagging her first whitetail deer.
While Betty’s first deer hunt sounds similar to countless other deer hunts in the United States, her hunt was anything but a typical. Betty is a disabled veteran of the Army Reserve with three deployments to Iraq and one to Afghanistan. Medically retired from the Army a few years ago, Betty’s deer hunt was sponsored by the Send-A-Vet Foundation, an organization dedicated to helping veterans by taking them on outdoor adventures.
This particular deer hunt was just one of dozens of events that Send-A-Vet has sponsored over the last couple of few years. The organization, which is headquartered in the Washington State, organizes hunts, fishing expeditions, rafting trips, and other outdoor events in order to assist wounded and disabled veterans.
The primary goal of Send-A-Vet is to get wounded and disabled veterans out of their homes and into the outdoors. The trips are fully paid for by donations and they strive to foster a safe and fun environment for veterans to enjoy the outdoors. Most of the work required to plan and organize these trips is done by veterans Rick Sutter (Marine Corps) and MarkDaniel Brasel (Army).
Send-A-Vet takes great pride in recreating the familiar bonds that develop between members of the military when they serve together. Virtually everyone on these trips, from the hunters to the volunteers, is a veteran, and they have been extremely successful in developing countless friendships between veterans that have met on trips sponsored by Send-A-Vet.
Over the years, they have helped countless veterans heal the numerous physical, emotional, and psychological wounds that they have suffered in Iraq, Afghanistan, and many other conflicts all over the world. Betty is just one of these veterans and she has participated in several Send-A-Vet sponsored events (including the deer hunt in Oregon, a bear hunt in Idaho, and a wolf trapping class).
When asked about how she felt during and after her Idaho bear hunt with Send-A-Vet, Betty said: “It’s so beautiful and so peaceful up there in the mountains. … I was so at peace, so relaxed that I could sleep really well, even after I got home after the hunt.”
Since the directors and volunteers of Send-A-Vet who take care of the small details of each event are all veterans, they understand of the difficulties that wounded and disabled veterans face. This sort of empathy and shared understanding is highly appreciated among the veterans who go on Send-A-Vet sponsored trips.
Because they have a good understanding of what life is like for wounded and disabled veterans, Send-A-Vet also specifically tailors all of their outdoor adventures to each veteran and accommodate veterans with a wide range of physical abilities. This includes everything from veterans who are amputees and are restricted to a wheelchair, to those with a visual impairment.
Being able to participate in a Send-A-Vet sponsored hunting or fishing trip has changed the lives of countless veterans, many of whom did not think that they would be able to enjoy the outdoors again. Send-A-Vet trips are not just for serious hunters either. Send-A-Vet has taken out many veterans who have never hunted before and can even loan a rifle to those in need for one of their sponsored hunts.
Don’t want to hunt? That’s no problem. Send-A-Vet also organizes other outdoor events, like fishing or rafting trips. Regardless of the event, trips are low key and veterans can participate as much or as little as they would like. If a veteran would rather just sit by the fire or enjoy being the wood on their sponsored trip, they can do that too.
If you are interested in making a donation, please visit the Send-A-Vet web site at send-a-vet.org. Wounded or disabled veterans may contact MarkDaniel Brasel at [email protected] for information on how to participate in a hunt or other outdoor adventure.