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Healing in the outdoors

CFC charity takes Purple Heart recipients hunting and fishing as a thank you and an opportunity for better mental health

The Wounded Warriors in Action Foundation takes Purple Heart recipients on world-class hunting and fishing trips at no cost. Credit: WWIA

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There are many costs that come from combat injuries, but as more time goes by, it has become abundantly clear that the mental wounds are as impactful as the physical ones.  And, certainly, dealing with those is paramount to long-term health.

Getting into the woods and onto streams and lakes is one way many military members have found mental solace and healing. That's where CFC-worthy Wounded Warriors in Action Foundation has made its mark bringing mental health to thousands of Purple Heart recipients.

WWIA is a national 501(c)(3) public charity and CFC option that supports men and women wounded in combat who were awarded the Purple Heart medal by providing them with the opportunity to participate in world-class outdoor sporting activities at no cost.

"We want to recognize and honor their sacrifice, by bringing wellness through a shared passion for the outdoors," said John McDaniel, founder and CEO. 

As an avid sportsman and retired military officer, McDaniel always returned to the outdoors to refresh his spirit when back from combat. He realized, as he neared retirement, that that could provide him a path to give back. He started the WWIA in 2007, and it has grown beyond his wildest dreams.

From deer hunting to salmon fishing to pheasant hunts, the WWIA and its cadre of volunteers across the country take our nation's heroes into natural settings to experience a shared passion.

According to their literature, WWIA accomplishes this task by:

  • Providing tailored, world-class outdoor sporting activities in small groups over a period of two to three days, promoting a deeper bond and peer-to-peer interaction.
  • Encouraging healing through the power of the great outdoors.
  • Providing a proven and certified Purple Heart Associate on every event as a mentor and guide for their fellow combat-wounded veterans. View Purple Heart Associates
  • Organizing regional and local community involvement and participation in WWIA-sponsored outdoor sporting events to build long-lasting relationships between American Heroes and American Sportsmen and women.

For example, the WWIF and the Missouri Conservation Department cosponsor the annual Missouri-Kansas Ducks N' Bucks event held near St. Joseph, Mo.

Purple Heart recipients travel free of charge to northwest Missouri for a four-day guided hunt with multiple banquets, and events.

"We had a super group of volunteers that helped out during the event," says Brian Roderick, Missouri-Kansas Ducks N' Bucks chapter president. "Thirty-five wonderful volunteers had boots on the ground, helping transport, guide, cook and more."

Others agreed.

"In my career, this was one of the most humbling and gratifying events I have ever had an opportunity to be a part of," said Roger Wolken, Conservation Department northwest regional protection supervisor. "I was touched by the gratitude each of the veterans expressed to us. We are so blessed to be U.S. citizens, to live and work in the profession we dearly love, to raise our children in a free country, all of which is due to the veterans of our armed forces and their personal dedication and sacrifices."

Other examples of activities include a Muskie trip in Wisconsin, whitetail archery hunt in Illinois and Tennessee, saltwater fishing off Louisiana, duck hunting in New York, and halibut fishing in Alaska.

McDaniel has memories full of wounded vets who have expressed how his organization saved their lives.

"And our volunteers come back for the same reasons," McDaniel said.

To support the WWIA, choose their CFC number for your annual contribution: #94512.

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