Hunting trip aims to help wounded warriors heal - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Hunting trip aims to help wounded warriors heal

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Byron Marlowe Byron Marlowe
Matthew Bradford Matthew Bradford
Brent Buckley Brent Buckley
Chuck White Chuck White
Ron Hinkle Ron Hinkle

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - You may walk by them every day and not know it. Wounded warriors aren't always in wheelchairs or missing limbs, but are sometimes suffering psychologically or with nerve damage.

Often times they suffer alone, but on a weekend trip held on nearly 600 acres of pristine woodlands some of our humble heroes gathered together.

The Marines and soldiers met at the Life Adventure Center, a non-profit near Versailles, to take aim, not at the enemy, but on bucks, does and healing after their physical and emotional wounds in combat.

Something as simple as a quiet day in the woods can be so powerful. even the program coordinator was stunned by the instant camaraderie and joy for these 15 wounded warriors.

"I really did not anticipate the impact it would have one these guys lives," said program coordinator Byron Marlowe.

And at the midway point of day one, the top hunter was a blind veteran from Nicholasville, Kentucky.

In 2007 Matthew Bradford was serving in Iraq when he 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 20 years old and had a long life ahead of me," he said, "God puts obstacles in front of you to overcome them not to back down from them and I've climbed the mountains, I didn't stop and go the other way."

Bradford, who is now working toward two degrees at the University of Kentucky, continued to recover by spending a weekend with fellow wounded warriors.

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

With the help of people who took the time to set up a scope with a separate computer screen for Bradford, he was able to bag a buck and doe in a matter of hours.

"With his marksmanship skills from the Marine Corps he did the rest," said fellow wounded warrior Brent Buckley.

Bradford said of the hunting trip, "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."

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 said.

Another wounded warrior who attended the hunt was Chuck White's brother-in-law, Ron Hinkle.

Hinkle's injury left him in a coma for 49 days. "We thought we were gonna lose him, which is tough ‘cuz him and I are close," said White.

But the wounds of war left him fearful of even going to the grocery store, "Everything was scary to me," Hinkle said.

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 said.

And Ron 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," he said. "All we've done is gone and served our country and we just got injured. That's all were are. We are wounded veterans not heroes."

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