By Jerel Ballard, WSAW News
PORTAGE COUNTY, Wis. (WSAW) The United Special Sportsman Alliance (USSA) kicked off their annual Turkey Hunt for wounded warriors and their families. Participating veterans will spend the weekend at Camp Helen, located in Almond, and will be honored at a banquet Saturday night.
Dan Folan, Chief of the Almond Fire Department, believes this is a great gesture to show our veterans how much we respect the sacrifices they made for us.
"We have had success this morning. So far we have two birds down,” said Folan while the men and women had lunch.
For many participants, this is their first experience turkey hunting. Each veteran is escorted by mentors throughout the weekend with a common goal; to bring home a turkey. Once the mission is accomplished, some come back and celebrate with a nice, cold beer.
Families were able to get in on the fun by being allowed to bring their children. A former soldier like Dale Homann brought all three of his daughters for their first time hunting turkeys. His youngest, Oliva, almost caught a turkey but slightly missed while shooting. “I gave him a haircut,” laughed Oliva.
Currently, State Law prohibits veterans from participating in the event in the future if they do not catch a turkey this weekend. Democratic State Representative, Katrina Shankland, attempted several times to pass a bill to overturn the rule, but needs a few more votes.
"I'm really excited to be here today to support our hunters, our youth and our veterans, Democratic Rep. Katrina Shankland of Stevens Point said. “I want to expand the opportunities for our veterans, so I’m hopeful in the future we can pass a bill.”
In the meantime, Chief Folan offered a little bit of advice for those who want to help give back. “If you see a veteran, tell them "thank you;" they have done a lot for our country.”
For more information on the different programs, the USSA provides or to make a donation, visit childswish.org