Americans are pitching in to help returning veterans in a variety of ways. As part of their efforts, Honored American Veterans Afield (HAVA) focuses on providing wounded veterans with an outdoor experience. Many of our veterans come from outdoor backgrounds, where hunting is an important family activity, so getting these men and women back into the field provides an important motivation for their recovery. HAVA recently conducted an elk hunt in New Mexico and the vets did very well:

HAVA-Elk-2013Honored American Veterans Afield (HAVA) and sponsor Monroe Schuler Foundation of Reno, Nevada hosted the annual HAVA/Monroe Schuler Foundation New Mexico Elk Hunt supporting 8 disabled veterans on a 2-day, trip-of-a-lifetime elk hunt in the mountains of New Mexico at sub-zero temperatures in early December. Headquartered at the NRA Whittington Center and conducted on the Vermejo Park Ranch, the hunt included a guide for each hunter plus ten HAVA volunteers and a team medic for full support of these eight American heroes who had suffered in defense of freedom. The hunt coincided with a major winter storm that cancelled thousands of flights and many of the participants had to drive hundreds of miles from Colorado, Nevada and Texas on slippery roads to participate. This was the third year that HAVA has hosted this special event and both organizations are committed to an ongoing series in the future.

“This elk hunt is the final event of our year and the highlight of our hunting series across 10 states in 2013 supporting disabled veterans – many of which went on their first hunt ever, and some of which went to venues that would otherwise be unattainable for them,” said HAVA Chairman Tom Taylor. “We deal with amputees, brain injuries, depression and all manners of other disabilities – but the thrill of the hunt makes these disabilities recede as these men and women don’t let their limitations interfere with success. As one retired Marine observed:

“I will never forget what HAVA did for me – I smiled…something that I hadn’t done for a CO Rifle Elk 2011 102 - Copylong time. This was better than any treatment a doctor could offer.”

Added Taylor, “Eight American heroes, eight elk harvested and eight enduring memories, some of which can change the course of these veteran’s lives – that’s what makes HAVA’s work so special. We are proud to be the shooting sports industry’s answer to aiding the contemporary disabled veteran’s rehabilitation by assisting their return to active outdoor sports.”

Mike Schuler of the Monroe Schuler Foundation who volunteered for the event added, “ I spent two days in deep snow at 10,000 feet in sub-zero temperatures hunting elk with a double-amputee American hero whose strength of character just wouldn’t let his injuries deter him. I will never forget it.”

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Joe Byers
Joe Byers has more than 1,000 magazine articles in print and is currently a field editor with Whitetail Journal, Predator Xtreme, Whitetails Unlimited, Crossbow Revolution, and African Hunting Journal magazines. He’s spent the last three decades depicting the thrill of the chase and photographing the majesty of all things wild. Byers is a member of the Professional Outdoor Media Association and numerous other professional and conservation organizations.