(WORTHINGTON) - Nick Schneider The program reaches out to disabled American veterans across the nation and invites them to Greene County to enjoy the wildlife offerings.
"Hunts for Heroes," sponsored by Worthington Sons of the American Legion (SAL) Squadron 106 and Worthington American Legion Post 106 in cooperation with American Legion District 7 in Indiana, provides hunting and fishing opportunities in Greene County for any disabled veterans and their families.
"We provide everything a veteran would need to go deer, turkey, goose, duck, rabbit hunting as well as fishing. If you are a disabled American veteran and can't hunt or don't feel like you have the ability due to injuries or illness please let us know and we will work to provide the accommodations needed for your specific disability," says Joel Wonder, a SAL member who is helping with the organization of program.
Wonder said the program has two upcoming hunts in mid-November.
The first will bring in a decorated veteran, Charles Pannell, for South Carolina, who had three tours of duty in Iraq before his squad was hit by grenades. He and two other soldiers in his unit became amputees, according to Wonder.
The veteran spent nine months in Walter Reed Army Medical Center near Washington D.C. and underwent 90 surgeries, but his leg could not be saved, Wonder stated.
Also on the first hunt will be a Louisiana retired veteran, Brian Warner, who is suffering from throat cancer.
The duo will be guided on their deer hunt on the Benham and Benjamin farm, located about two miles north of Worthington.
"We will facilitate the hunt, providing four-wheelers, helping them get in the blinds and drag their game out," Wonder said.
The second hunt will be Nov. 24, 25 and 26 at the same location.
The organizers are seeking sponsors and volunteers to help with the program that will also include in-season turkey, rabbit, geese and duck hunts.
"We are trying to make this a community effort," Wonder said in pointing out that the processing, lodging and some meals have already been donated. "There is no cost at all to these guys once they get to Indiana. We will provide everything needed for the hunt except for travel to and from and your hunting license. We have over 1,200 acres of prime hunting land to enjoy along with 8,000 acres of public wetland (Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area) that is open to the public.
"No matter what your disability we will get you into and out of the field, dress and clean the game, provide you with all tools needed including guns and ammo, blinds and stands, decoys, and guides."
Plans are already made for a future hunt.
"White River Whistling Wings has donated a fully guided late season goose hunt. This hunt will go to two disabled American veterans," Wonder said.
A wheelchair turkey hunt is also being planned in the spring.
The Linton Bass Club has also volunteered to sponsor a 12-man wheelchair accessible fishing tournament in the spring at Greene-Sullivan State Forest.
"It's not a one time deal. Other people can donate land for us to hunt and sponsor hunt or fishing events," Wonder stressed. "I have 10 beagles (dogs) and we can do any kind of small game hunts as well."
The idea for the veteran's hunt came to Wonder, who calls himself an avid hunter and fisherman, while he was watching a hunting show that featured veterans.
"I thought 'man I could do that'," he recalled.
Wonder says he hopes the word will get out about the hunts and welcomes disabled veterans to take part in the program.
"This is open to any disabled veteran and if he or she has children we would also make this a family outing for them," Wonder stated.
Wonder said so far, the support from the community and businesses has been encouraging.
"Through a lot of pounding the pavement and asking a lot of businesses and restaurants for help, we've got it done so far. It's been something," he said.
Any disabled veteran who is interested in participating in a future event can contact Wonder by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (812) 699-9729.
Hunts for Heroes is also on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/Hunt
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