Non-profit helps emotionally wounded warriors heal

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December 1, 2013, 7:17 am
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(NECN/NBC News: Scott Reynolds) - Wounded warriors may not be in wheelchairs or missing limbs, but suffering with nerve damage or with psychological issues. In an effort to help, a non-profit brings together wounded warriors for weekend hunting adventures.  Using nature and camaraderie, they help them to heal.

"It really lifts your spirits up and makes you feel a lot better," said Ron Hinkle, a wounded warrior.

Even the program coordinator stunned by the instant friendship and joy for these 15 wounded warriors.

"I really did not anticipate the impact it would have one these guys lives," said Byron Marlowe, of the Life Adventure Center.

In 2007 in Iraq, Matthew Bradford stepped on a roadside bomb.  He lost his sight, his legs, and for a short while, his will to live.

"At first it was giving up, but then I realized I was twenty years old and had a long life ahead of me.  And God puts obstacles in front of you to overcome them not to back down from them.  I've climbed the mountains.  I didn't stop and go the other way," explained Bradford.

Now with two college degrees, Bradford is still getting better by spending the weekend with fellow wounded warriors.

"The best thing to cure injury or sickness is to be around people you love," Bradford said.

Despite losing his sight completely, Bradford can still hunt with the other warriors.

"With his marksmanship skills from the marine corps he did the rest.  All we were doing was his eyes and helping him with slight movements," said Brent Buckley, another wounded warrior.

"You’re at peace with yourself and away from the stress of the world. I think it's the best thing, the best recovery and rehab is sitting out here in the woods," Bradford said.

It’s the same story the Life Adventure Center hears over and over about the wounded warrior hunt.

"Last event they had one of the service members thinking of suicide.  As a result of that hunt he decided not to. You don't realize sometimes you don't see the impact you're making," Marlowe of the Life Adventure Center said.

Chuck White is a volunteer at the center. His brother-in-law, Ron Hinkle, came out of a coma after 49 days, but the wounds of war left him fearful of even going to the grocery store.

Then he came to last year’s hunt.

"He’s had a drastic change in the way he looks at things.  He smiles.  He's more active.  He wants to give back," White noticed.

And Hinkle did that by volunteering at the hunt this year.

"You’re not talking to a doctor and everybody understands because everybody is going through a similar situation," Hinkle explained. "All we've done is gone and served our country and we just got injured.  That's all we are.  We are wounded veterans now, not heroes."

Tags: non-profit, wounded warriors, NBC News, Life Adventure Club, Ron Hinkle, Byron Marlowe, Matthew Bradford, Chuck White, Scott Reynolds
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