The Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation (WBWF) hosted its 2nd Wounded Warrior event in December. Many soldiers who have fought in the War on Terror now fight another tough battle back at home. Soldiers that are severely wounded battle physical wounds, emotional troubles, joblessness, family tribulations, limited medical support, etc. The WBWF has developed a program to help these Wounded Warriors.
Four wounded soldiers attended a multi-day outdoor retreat at the WBWF Cove property. The four soldiers have all sustained severe injuries since September 11, 2001 that include Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), extreme burns, loss of limbs, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The Cove embodies a secluded 2,100+ acre site nestled in northern Halifax County that includes more than 8 miles of river frontage on the scenic Staunton River. The WBWF Wounded Warrior program uses Mother Nature’s natural elements to promote a positive recovery and give the veterans the opportunity to explore their potential while trying things they thought were impossible. The activities during this event focused on building camaraderie and confidence and included hiking, quail hunting, ATV trail riding, skeet shooting, and social gatherings.
These military heroes were assisted by local volunteers, and in exchange the volunteers received an amazing lesson in resilience, perseverance, and optimism. Leading the charge as volunteers were Ward Burton, Larry Roller, Tom Inge, and Tom Falkland. Tom Falkland, a decorated soldier himself, is the owner of Falkland Farms Hunting Plantation in Halifax County, and he guided the quail hunting activity with the help of his famous German Shorthair Pointers. Corporate sponsors included CaseNEX which is an education consulting firm newly located in Riverstone in South Boston, Beretta which is an international firearms manufacturer, and EZ-Go which makes ATV golf carts supplied through Jeff Henderson’s local dealership. Many local restaurants and citizens contributed food and drinks for the retreat. The Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes was an invaluable partner that helped identify the soldiers in most need for this type of event and helped logistically make the retreat possible.
One of the wounded warriors, Jorge Deleon, said “This is the best thing that has happened to me in such a long time. Just being out in the woods with a NASCAR driver is unbelievable!”
The WBWF has many programs geared towards the environment, but the Wounded Warrior program is new and fits into the Foundation’s goal of connecting people to the outdoors. Ward Burton said, “Veterans are in need of multi-day retreats that help them holistically in many ways, and there are only a handful of organizations nationally that provide that need. We are proud and honored to be one of those organizations.” The WBWF is planning long-term events throughout the year with the goal of soon building more infrastructure that can house wounded warriors and their families in order to treat the family as a whole unit.