Eleven o’clock on Sunday marked more than the opening of dove season-it marked another step in the healing process for five soldiers stationed at Ft. Campbell. As part of the HOOAH program the soldiers took part in a three-day dove hunting retreat over the holiday weekend.
This event was hosted by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, River Bend White Tails and Wild Wing Lodge and Kennel and was supported by numerous locals. The long weekend was filled with fishing, hunting and community building.
The idea for the event came from a conversation between Kurt Divine and the late Ronnie Rich, retired game warden. "The outdoors is our job and we're very thankful for what our service men do," Divine said.
The HOOAH, Healing Outside Of A Hospital, program at Ft. Campbell “coordinates outdoor therapeutic events for wounded, injured and ill soldiers of Fort Campbell in conjunction with the Warrior Transition Battalion” according to their Facebook page.
It works by “showing them that there is something outside of those doors,” said program attendee Luke Hortenstine, “This is hands down an awesome program… that gets soldiers off post and away from the mundane.”
The program started in 2007 when a soldier at Ft. Campbell took a wheelchair bound friend and soldier turkey hunting according to program coordinator Staff Sergeant Matthew Taylor. That hunt helped the soldier see that there was more life to be had, according to Taylor.
“I’ve seen soldiers come full circle just by being out in the woods” Taylor said. “Its an amazing thing to watch.”
Taylor went on to say that many soldiers who participate in the program have never been hunting or fishing. “They get to decompress and relax and see that there are opportunities out there,” he said.
General Joe Orr, US
Army Retired, spent time with the soldiers and shot a few clay pigeons with them. “We don’t forget our soldiers and their families,” he said. “I think these soldiers and their families have give a whole lot and this is a great way to give back.”
For more information about the HOOAH program at Ft. Campbell contact them at (931) 561-9475 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on scheduling a local event contact Kurt Divine at (270) 389-3580.