Veterans in one local community received a hero’s welcome home to help heal their mental wounds.
Sheriff’s deputies, police officers, and firefighters led a parade through Mt. Vernon, Illinois, to thank seven veterans for their service.
It was just the beginning of a weekend aimed at healing outside the hospital.
His whole life, Jared Pope says, he wanted to be a Marine.
"If you're going to join, you might as well join the toughest," said Pope.
For seven years he Pope served in the Marine Corps.
During his second tour of duty in Afghanistan, Pope’s life changed forever.
"I stepped on an IED and landed like this," said Pope.
As a double amputee, Pope leaned on veteran support groups to ease his transition.
He says nothing compares to his experience on Healing Outside of the Hospital’s hunting and fishing trips.
"It's not even about the hunt. It's about the group of people that you hang out with while you're here,” said Pope. “We meet all of these other guys that have similar problems, or problems that nobody can see, and those are sometimes the biggest problems."
Organizer Tom Gaither, who is a Marine veteran, says HOOAH gives veterans a mission that it hopes to expand beyond the deer stand.
"By the time this event is over, if the stats are right, we'll have lost a soldier,” said Gaither. “We can do more!"
"By doing stuff like this we're able to get out, outreach to people, and let them know there's somebody they can come hangout with and talk to,” said Pope. “We're trying to help out one soldier at a time, one marine at a time."
By offering more free trips, HOOAH hopes to help more veterans win the fight for their lives.
HOOAH hunting and fishing trips are funded 100% by donations and fundraisers.
If you would like to donate click here.
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