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Hunting for resiliency: Fort Riley Soldiers, outdoorsmen join during weekend event

By Sgt. 1st Class Abram Pinnington | 1ST INF. DIV. PUBLIC AFFAIRS | December 08, 2015

FALL RIVER, Kan. — Soldiers from the 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley, along with more than 35 hunters and sponsors, gathered Oct. 16 to 18 to raise awareness for veteran resiliency during the sixth annual Kansas Salutes the Troops at the Flint Oaks Lodge.

The three-day affair featured a trap tournament, banquet-style dinners and a European pheasant shoot. While attendees were given opportunities to participate in world-class events, the focus was centered on Soldier and veteran interaction with fellow hunters in hopes of easing stress while creating lifelong memories.

“We want Soldiers to know they’re not alone,” said Ty Brookover, KST organizer and an agriculture executive from Garden City. “One of our goals is to create an environment for veterans that can assist in rehabilitating, get them out and be with fellow hunters.”

Partnering with the Outdoor Recreation Heritage Fund, Brookover and other associates are taking aim at making an impact on Soldiers and veterans by helping them find peace through hunting and other outdoor activities.

“All of us have things we love to do,” Brookover said.

If Soldiers were injured or are suffering and can no longer do those things they love, the rehabilitation process becomes extremely difficult, Brookover said. So, if people like him can help bring them back into what they love and it helps with the healing process, that is success, he added.

As Soldiers and organizers arrived Oct. 16 and started socializing in the lodge’s large great room, the atmosphere was relaxed and calm. However, as the second day’s shooting and hunting events came and went, camaraderie was on full display as the room was filled with laughter and animated conversations about shared experiences.

“When I first got here, I was excited but I was a little nervous and didn’t know what to expect,” said Spc. Zachary Alba, a military policeman assigned to the 97th Military Police Battalion, 89th Military Police Brigade. “But, as we did more together, it was like a big group of friends hanging out and hunting together. This was an unbelievable event for Soldiers. I had a blast.”

The fun did not stop when the final shot was taken. When the night’s feast concluded Oct. 17, sponsors announced they would give away hunting trips to five veterans. As all-inclusive hunts to Colorado, Maryland and Kansas were given away to elated Soldiers, one supporter decided he needed to give more and added one last trip – an alligator hunt in Florida. The giveaway capped off a night filled with thanks, handshakes and high fives.

When participants started to filter back to their homes in Chicago, Virginia, Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas the next day, they left with more than they came: friendships.

“We definitely made some new friends here this weekend,” said Alba, as he looked around his table of fellow Soldiers nodding their heads in agreement. “This was an incredible place, filled with even more incredible people. This definitely made an impact on me and I’ll never forget this.”

Brookover was happy with the event’s impact.

“In the end, we just want Soldiers to come out, have a good time and hunt — speak if they want to speak, but leave knowing they have someone there for them if needed,” Brookover said.

For more information on Kansas Salutes the Troops, go to kansassalutesthetroops.com. For more on the Outdoor Recreation Heritage Fund, go to www.orhfund.org.

 

Tag outdoor recreation   Tag Resilience