WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — A local shop with all things hunting and fishing is using its birthday blowout to highlight a nonprofit that uses those hobbies to help combat veterans cope with PTSD.
Folks with Marksmen Firearms and Outfitters Saturday afternoon said the great outdoors may just change the statistics surrounding military suicide.
“Mother nature’s the best therapy you can give them,” Hunting with Soldiers founder and president Gordan Melton said.
By trade the psychiatrist’s office for the outdoors, that’s how the nonprofit Hunting with Soldiers guides combat veterans in their battle with PTSD.
“We do all-expense-paid hunting and fishing adventures for our combat veterans,” Melton said. “We go all across the state of texas getting them out.”
The founder of Hunting with Soldier made his way to Wichita Falls to spread the word at the Marksmen Firearms and Outfitters’ birthday blowout.
“The reason why he caught on my radar was he actually did a hunt for a friend I went to school with, and immediately when I saw him tag him [on Facebook], I said ‘done’ I picked him,” Lavender said.
Lavender picked Melton’s organization for a raffled riffle in which all proceeds going right back into a goal of ending suicide among soldiers.
“If we can prevent one of those, we’ve done what we’ve set out to do,” Melton said.
Lavender said he believes in the organization and said it wouldn’t be an anniversary celebration without giving back.
“I’m not worried if people help us out, I want to help the community, I’ve been in this community for 36 years,” Lavender said. “We’re just small town. We may have four stores, but we’re all local in it.”
And local businesses helping local nonprofits is similar to how Hunting with Soldiers trips go. It’s about more than just hunting and fishing. Lives are changed through the company these veterans are surrounded by.
“They don’t tell the VA everything,” Melton said. “We get them in the outdoors, and they’re able to talk to other combat veterans that have been in similar situations.”
A business birthday celebration puts the spotlight on an organization aiming to change the narrative.
Hunting with Soldiers relies on donations to keep it up and running. Click here to contribute or sign up for a trip.