CHINCOTEAGUE, Va. - Veterans returning from war can have a difficult time returning to civilian life, even more so if those veterans come home with the scars of war. One organization, Freedom Hunters, is putting on its annual hunting event to help those wounded warriors and some men and women still serving to heal.
The four-day event in Chincoteague serves multiple purposes for folks returning home from overseas.
"It's about a lot of guys getting together and coming together and leaving a little bit more healed than when they got here," said Tom Deoudes, hunt coordinator.
The group is using hunting as a way to give veterans a chance to form bonds similar to the ones they felt while serving their country.
"It gives us a sense of comradery again that we get in the military you kind of miss after you separate from the military," said 30-year Navy veteran Jaime Sigala. "The same talk and banter that goes back and forth between folks. It's an awesome event and it does help folks kind of ready heal."
The trip also opens the doors of communication for these home-grown heroes.
"Many of them don't know each other, but they come here and it's an instant connection to each other because they've been in combat before so it helps talking," said Dan Theole, hunt coordinator.
"A lot of things that we go through are similar to each other in some way or form," said Army veteran Brandon Rethmeo.
And veterans say just being out in nature alone can be the reset button these men and women need.
"It's pretty awesome just to be out here with other guys who can relate to you, and it's really therapeutic being back in the outdoors, and it's really peaceful and calm," said Sigala.
The Chincoteague community does everything they can to chip in to help.
"We've had locals donate condominiums, we also had the Hampton Inn donate several rooms, and Fairfield Inn donated several rooms," said Thoele. "I think it's America's way of giving back to our private citizens our warriors."
The event, which also includes active duty soldiers and gold star family members, will continue through Tuesday, and for more information you can log on to freedomhunters.org.
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