Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Places to visit!

From members: Judy and Steve Czarsty: Here's an article the troops might like to read

Check out this article from USA TODAY: 10 Best: Military museums, http://usat.ly/1qtmUee

Monday, November 3, 2014


Soldiers fishing
Jaime Barahona returned empty-handed after a Sunday of fishing at Wilson Lake.That didn’t bother him one bit.
“I didn’t catch anything today, but just being out there is nice,” Barahona said. “You don’t worry about anything else. It’s therapy out there.”

Barahona was among 10 wounded soldiers from the Army’s 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, who spent the weekend fishing in the Shoals in the third annual Operation HOOAH.

Hooah is a popular yell for soldiers, so organizers of the event used it as the program’s title, but with an additional meaning: as an acronym for “Healing Outside Of an Army Hospital.”

Ronnie McDonald helped create the organization in hopes of helping in the mental healing aspect of the soldiers’ recovery.

McDonald said area fishermen volunteered to take the soldiers out on Pickwick and Wilson lakes this weekend.

“These guys have a lot of fun, and they love taking these soldiers out,” he said.

McDonald said local businesses also helped in a variety of ways, ranging from providing free hotel rooms to donating fishing equipment. Barahona said it means a lot to him to know Americans care enough to do this.

“It’s outstanding, them volunteering to take us out,” he said.

Col. Greg Estes was among those enjoying the weekend. Estes said he believes it helps the soldiers to see a high-ranking officer also struggle with the emotions connected with combat experience.

“They’re saving marriages and preventing suicides,” Estes said. “They help us, and take the pressure off us.”

“Last year, 22 soldiers came up to us and told us if it hadn’t been for whatever trip they had been on, they wouldn’t be here,” Carter said.

“This is definitely the most rewarding job I’ve had in my military career.”

He said the anglers and other volunteers with the program leave an impression on the soldiers. “It shows there’s a lot of people out here who believe in what the military does.”

Danyel Braxton said he was amazed by the hospitality he experienced throughout the weekend.

“It was awesome,” Braxton said. “Hats off to these guys who let us do this. Fishing is relaxing. It’s good for the soul. You’re just out there with Mother Nature and relaxed.”

One volunteer angler, Dona Gowen, is a Korean War veteran, so he can relate to what the soldiers are going through.

“I was at Fort Campbell before these guys were even born,” Gowen said. “Fort Campbell is close to my heart. It’s good to get to rub shoulders with soldiers again. Ronnie and his wife, Martha, have done a tremendous job. This is a good way for the community to give back, and it’s a privilege to be here.”

Operation HOOAH (Healing Outside Of an Army Hospital) allows soldiers an opportunity to re-integrate with civilian society in a relaxing, outdoor setting. This event is held annually in North Alabama.
Related article: Operation HOOAH: Program is therapy for wounded soldiers

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