Wounded Warrior takes aim at local wildlife

Courtesy of the Atchison Globe
ADAM GARDNER

Across the nation, Wounded Warriors in Action helps organize outdoor sporting activities for military personnel who have been wounded in action.

Atchison welcomed one of those individuals, Sgt. John Knight of the United States Army, who suffered gunshot wounds to the head and neck, as well as shrapnel from an RPG blast while stationed in northern Afghanistan.

Through WWIA, Knight was connected with sportsmen in Northeast Kansas and went duck and deer hunting Friday.

Knight, a Michigan native, said he grew up on a farm and has been hunting his entire life. He said he enjoyed the opportunity to hunt in the heartland.

"It's amazing, this is some of the best hunting in America right here," Knight said.

Knight wasn't the only Purple Heart recipient in the area, as seven others came to Kansas and Missouri for weekend hunting trips.

According to Jake Whipkey, associate with WWIA, those wounded in action can fill out an application form on the organization's website. From there, WWIA contacts different sportsmen around the country who have expressed interest in hosting a wounded warrior.

"All their costs are covered," Whipkey said. "From (hunting) licenses to the cost of driving or flying in. We link them up with the sportsmen and everybody has a nice, relaxing weekend and they get to spend some time with some awesome people."

Nelson Curry, an Air Force veteran and environmental tech in Atchison for the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, went with Knight on his hunt, which included deer hunting on the land known as the Benedictine bottoms.

Typically, to hunt the Benedictine bottoms, a hunter has to have a permit, but Curry said special approval was given in the case of Knight.

Knight said he enjoyed the opportunity to be around other people who were wounded in action.

"It's an amazing time, just to hang around with guys that know what you're going through and have shared the same experiences in life," he said.

According to the WWIA website, more than 47,000 members of the military have been combat wounded in the past 10 years. The goals of the WWIA include increasing self-reliance and self-confidence, promoting spiritual healing and wellness, and instilling a sense of belonging, all through these outdoor activities.

For more information on the WWIA or to find out how to get involved with the organization, visit www.wwiaf.org.

Adam Gardner can be reached at adam.gardner@npgco.com.

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