How this Virginia hunt club helps wounded vets escape their pain
When you’re looking for an escape, 10,000 acres in Brunswick County is a good place to start.
Members of the Great Creek Hunt Club arrive there by the dozens every fall.
“We just have a good time. It’s a lot of fun,” Mike Tripp, from Henrico, said.
Friendships here stretch back decades, but this autumn a few strangers are welcomed with open arms — like the Veterans with Wounded Warriors in Action.
Each soldier or Marine, like Scott Mallard from North Carolina, has earned a Purple Heart or two in battle.
“I was in a Humvee that ran over an IED and I was shot in the hand. I was shot in the hand,” Mallard said.
The four-day all expenses paid trip helps with long road to recovery.
“I am so humbled by the reception we got. And all the men who came out to support us its humbling,” Scott said.
Andy Wilson from Chesterfield said it’s an honor rolling out the red carpet.
“We’ve made lifelong friends hosting this event,” Andy said. “We obviously can’t imagine what they went through, but what little we can give back it is incredible for us and the feedback we get is incredible for them. Within five or 10 minutes they feel like they’re home.”
Iraq War veteran and Texan Rolando Perez said his stress seems to vanish in Virginia.
“It’s priceless. It’s definitely priceless,” Rolando said. “It kind of brings us back full circle here. We leave here kind of in peace… to continue on.”
Wounded Warriors in Action’s Nick Fox, himself a retired Marine and Purple Heart recipient, sees a change every time he guides fellow veterans through the woods.
“We send down about three veterans. Small group so it’s more sociable,” Fox said. “Some things they have to live with for the rest of their lives, but I think they make bonds and friendships for a lifetime.”
Mike Tripp said each hero guest deserves this.
“Oh yeah. It’s humbling. It really is,” Mike said. “Like I said, I tear up just talking about it. Can’t help it. Its tops. Tops for me. I love it.”
Randy Bagwell, a soldier from Texas, spent more than a year recovering from injuries caused by a roadside bomb. He knows one way to show his appreciation for his heartfelt welcome and escape in the woods.
“After I get out of the military, I want to pay this forward,” he said. “I want to do what they’ve done for me and help my fellow veterans because it feels great to take care of people.”
Wounded Warriors in Action help about 300 veterans each year at approximately 50 events nationwide. The Great Creek Hunt Club will invite another group of veterans to Virginia next spring for a turkey hunt.