Tom Reynolds and Gary Watkins, stopped by to honor some local veterans and speak with guests at the Ravenswood Senior Center regarding the Jackson County Hunting Heroes (JCHH) organization.
The JCHH is a service organization that is 100 percent volunteer based. They enable paralyzed and disabled veterans to participate in outdoor activities ranging from deer and turkey hunting to fishing, outdoor games, cookouts, and critter dinners.
Formed in 2013 with a 20-dollar bill and a VISA card, the goal of the organization was to create something similar to the Wounded Warrior Project. Director Bob Frame is dedicated to serving veterans while being at the forefront of activities with the West Virginia Chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans of America.
The mission of the JCHH is to improve the quality of life for US Veterans and their families through education, fellowship, and building on tradition by providing recreational opportunities during their recovery and rehabilitation to promote healing and personal esteem.
Through volunteer efforts, raffles, hat, T-shirt sales, and donations, JCHH decided to do a muzzleloading deer hunt for veterans. Their first hunt was conducted in December 2015. It was a success and a blessing to all involved.
Veterans from all over West Virginia, as well as other states such as New Mexico, Oklahoma, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, have participated in the hunts.
“West Virginia places more military members in war zones than any other state. When these veterans return home from the war, they are different, they have experienced things that change them and it is hard to come back knowing what they know,” Reynolds said. “We wanted to give them an opportunity to be around other veterans with similar challenges and be productive while enjoying nature.”
The events are located at Parchment Valley Conference Center and veterans receive free lodging, meals, supplies, guides to assist them on their hunt, as well as free hunting licenses provided by the DNR.
For paralyzed or disabled hunters, an “Action Track” wheelchair is available thanks to Constellium who donated $13,000 to the JCHH for the purchase of this piece of machinery which can handle almost any terrain. It assists the hunter by allowing them to have the “in the field experience” as any other hunter would.
The organization also hosts a “Critter Dinner” in conjunction with one of the hunts. The Jackson County Board of Education supplies culinary students from the Vo-Tech center to cook, while students in the FFA clean and prepare the meat that is killed, from start to finish. This is a community supported event that brings volunteers from all around Jackson County who come together to honor and support the veterans who have given so much.
To date, there have been a total of five hunts with over 150 veterans participating. Suicides have been prevented, hunters have regained memory, come to peace with their combat experiences, and one man even moved from Florida to West Virginia because he felt people in Jackson County actually cared for their veterans.
“It is our responsibility as citizens to take care of our vets, and I believe Jackson County residents have the biggest hearts for veterans in America,” Reynolds said.
For more information on the Jackson County Hunting Heroes, check out their Facebook page at Jackson County Hunting Heroes – WV or www.JCHHWV.com.