News: Atterbury hosts Wounded Warrior Hunt
Story by Staff Sgt. Matt Scotten
EDINBURGH, Ind. – Covering over 30,000 acres of wildlife refuge, Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center is known across the state of Indiana as not only a premier training facility for our nation’s forces, but also as a premier hunting destination for deer, turkey and other small game.
Throughout this week, soldiers participating in the Army’s Wounded Warrior Program were flown to Atterbury to participate in the Wounded Warrior Hunt, one of three major hunts the base is holding this year; the other two hunts the Adjutant General’s Deer Hunt, Nov. 20, and the Annual Military Refuge Firearms Hunt, Nov. 25-27.
The Wounded Warrior Program is the official U.S. Army program that assists and advocates for severely wounded, ill, and injured soldiers, veterans, and their families, wherever they are located, regardless of military status. The program strives to foster the smooth recovery of wounded warriors as they recover from battle-related injuries.
Aside from helping soldiers recover from physical wounds, they also work to help soldiers recover from the psychological stress that often accompanies a combat-related injury. One way they accomplish this is with the Wounded Warrior Hunt.
Sgt. 1st Class Cody Wooten, range cadre at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center, spearheaded much of the work involved in making the hunt happen here this year.
“When it occurred to me that we needed to do something like this for our wounded brothers out there, I made three phone calls,” said Wooten. “Evidently, I called the right people because the very next day we found out that the adjutant general had already approved the hunt to happen.”
One month later, seven soldiers were hand-selected and flown in to participate in the hunt. Travel, lodging, food, weapons and hunting supplies were all provided for them. All they needed to do was arrive and want to hunt deer.
Col. Todd Townsend, Atterbury post commander, said he was extremely pleased Atterbury has been able to support wounded soldiers in this capacity.
“You come out and you just talk to these heroes and hear some of the stories that they have gone through and they have absolutely no regrets,” said Townsend. “It just amazes me, the positive attitudes that they have. This is a great program and what a privilege it is to be able to do this for these guys.”
Master Sgt. Robert Farmer, who arranges hunts for the Wounded Warrior Program, said the hunts help soldiers transition after combat deployments.
“Being wounded as many times as I have, I know the importance of setting up and doing these events. It gets the guys out of the hospital and integrated back into society,” said Farmer. “It makes them feel like a normal human being again. It’s important to the healing process. The body will heal itself. Healing the mind is really what we’re doing here.”
Of all the soldiers who attended the Atterbury hunt, one chose to bring his wife with him. Master Sgt. David Glenn, who also participated in the hunt, said that he was glad to see spouses were able to come and support their soldiers.
“The spouses are the ones who have to deal with everything that happens at home while these soldiers are away, and when they find out their husband or wife has been injured in combat, it’s extremely hard on them,” said Glenn. “You always hear about the sacrifices soldiers make, but their spouses are the ones who are left helping their soldiers pick up the pieces when it’s all said and done, and you don’t hear enough about their sacrifices. They are really the silent heroes.”
According to Wooten, this hunt could not have happened without countless volunteers and contributions, not only from local Guardsmen and hunters, but also from local businesses.
“As soon as word got out, people started calling and just started donating everything from hunting blinds and ladder stands and just absolutely everything we could ever need for the hunt,” said Wooten. “I only told maybe one or two people about it and just through word of mouth I started getting calls from hunters and guides and tons, I mean tons, of volunteers wanting to help.
Among those volunteers was Ronnie Mays, a local hunter and Vietnam veteran from Morgantown, Ind. He said he had seen these kinds of hunts on television and had always wanted to take part in one.
“Words can’t describe how I feel to be here,” said Mays. “To be here helping these boys out is an absolute blessing. If they had stuff like this for us when we came home from Vietnam, I think it could have saved a lot of men’s lives.”
Camp Atterbury has been known for decades as a premier training location from which America’s fighting forces can deploy. The Wounded Warrior Hunt is just one opportunity for the installation to help and support the ones coming home.
“Some of these guys haven’t been out of the hospital but a couple of weeks,” said Wooten. “You should have seen the smiles on their faces getting out there and hunting. If given the opportunity, I would do this every time.”