A Weekend with the Wounded Warriors

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By WSIL Sports

WARE-- Their stories of sacrifice and setback are humbling.

"IED went off and I was about five feet from it, got kicked off a nine foot embankment broke my back, broken bone in it, I'm blind in right eye," described SFC Perry Thorington.

But for the 15 wounded warriors in attendance at Grassy Lake Hunting Club this weekend, the healing works in unseen and at times, unspoken ways.

"What they call it is camaflouge therapy. We’re giving each other therapy without knowing that we’re doing it. We’re just talking aboutt stuff we know we can relate to and outside really couldn’t help with that," said SFC Thorington.

It's a connection and brotherhood that can only be described as life-changing, and still for others, the program's effect is measured by a human life.

"I wound up putting a loaded gun in my mouth in my garage and as I had the weapon in my mouth, got a phone call, and for some reason I answered the phone," said Retired SSG Michael Hulsey.

That very call, an invitation to attend the wounded warriors hunt at Grassy Lake Hunting Club exactly one year ago. It's a weekend SSG Michael Hulsey credits to single handedly saving his life.

"I have wives that call me and say what did you do to my husband, and you get a little panicked, and they say he’s actually talking to me now, because he had a good time, he had something to say, and it wasn’t about the war," said Retired SFC Ronnie Gullion.

It's given the Hooah program founder new motivation.

"Honestly, it makes my life worth living now, I’m very proud of what I do. I’m still sick, I feel like crap every morning when I get up, but I find one person a day to help and it makes me feel good and I forget that I’m sick for the day."

He added, "Now I’ve never been in a foxhole or Iraq with any of these people here but I love them just as much or maybe more than some of the guys I’ve done that with because a ground blind is now our foxhole and we’re fighting the battle for normalcy, or acceptance or to deal with what we had to deal with.

A group that boasts bravery and is hailed as heroes, an outing from their perspective where they find peace with themselves and a new sense of purpose.

"I had proved to myself I can still get out and enjoy the outdoors like I used to, I’m a little slower, I have to ask or help, but I can still do it, I’m not dead, I’m just slow," said Retired SSG Hulsey.

And so from a weekend of hunting comes healing, and with it, new-found hope that tomorrow will only get better.

By: Kelly Burke
KBurke@wsiltv.com
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