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Hunt brings healing to vets

Basin Republican Rustler of Basin, Wyoming

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The Oct. 16 dinner at the "compound" southwest of Greybull started out small, five or six people, but grew to about 20 and before the tables had been cleared about 30 people, including veterans, wounded warriors, support people, cooks, helpers, a television crew from Branded Brigade Outdoors and friends had enjoyed fried chicken and all the trimmings, and a wide variety of pies, cakes and topped with ice cream and/or whipped cream.

The guests came from near and far — Texas, Washington DC, Georgia, Washington, Montana, Minnesota, and as close as Sheridan. It was a fun evening, but the most heartwarming was listening to the give and take among the vets, the laughter and joshing as they shared hunting stories, laughing, as they "one-upped" each other on whose was the better animal.

But in the quiet moments, as some of the wounded warriors shared what the week meant to them, you could see behind the banter and laughter to the scars left by their experiences in Iraq, Afghanistan and other places.

To qualify for the Wounded Warrior hunting trip, veterans must be 50 percent disabled according to guidelines set forth by the Veteran's Administration and are carefully screened before being accepted.

People sometimes don't realize that not all wounds are visible; many veterans suffer from PTSD; the mental and emotional scars that remain inside, hidden from view, are as real as physical wounds and scars.

Mark Kuhl of Kalispell, Mont., came to Greybull as a Wounded Warrior participant last year. This year he returned, on his own dime, to support the program and veterans.

Kuhl served in the Marine Corps for four years. "Then I had to get out," he said succinctly. He recalls returning home after his discharge. "My wife and I drove up in front of our home, and there were 500 American flags in my yard. A sign read: 'Thank you for your service.' My wife and I just sat in the pickup and cried." The man responsible for the flags/sign was Gerald Metzler, World War II veteran and Bronze Star recipient.

His experience last year as a Wounded Warrior brought home to him how important the concept of this

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Original Publication Date: November 5, 2015

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