Story by Matthew Parks, Staff writer
Briggs and Stratton in Murray is working to provide financial donations and equipment for the Horicon Marsh Veterans Hunt, a program that assists veterans by getting them outside and involved in hunting.
Every year, the Hunt takes as many veterans as possible for a weekend of hunting and relaxation in Wisconsin.
The group is comprised entirely of volunteers and funded by charitable donations of both money and necessary hunting equipment.
According to the Hunt’s website, it is intended to be a healing process for war veterans and a source of camaraderie for veterans who may have difficulties talking about their experiences.
Julie Mollen, marketing manager for Briggs and Stratton, said she believes the charity is a great way to give back to local heroes and stood out to Briggs and Stratton as a great cause.
“We just really appreciated what we saw these guys doing,” Mollen said. “They’re taking the outdoors and combining it with their passion for giving back to veterans, and that’s an incredible thing.”
Mollen said the contributions are part of Briggs and Stratton’s ‘You.Powered.’ initiative that highlights stories of people using outdoor power equipment to improve the lives of their neighbors and communities.
“The connection has been finding people doing great things with outdoor power equipment,” Mollen said. “This organization helps to make a real difference in the lives of veterans by using a channel that we are more than familiar with at Briggs and Stratton.”
Erik Jewell, a U.S. Army veteran from Duluth, Georgia, said he believes the initiative is a great way for Briggs and Stratton and the Veterans Hunt to honor veterans.
“Right now, we have an influx of disabled veterans that are unable to do things like hunt,” Jewell said. “I think it’s amazing that somebody’s trying to do that for them.”
Jewell, a former special combat operations medic, said he believes programs like the Horicon Marsh Veterans Hunt are also a method of fighting rising suicide rates among veterans, especially those who were rendered disabled in the line of duty.
“It makes a real difference in veterans’ lives,” Jewell said. “A lot of them that are disabled or can’t get out and do things like that — it’s one of the factors that contributes to the high number of veteran suicides.”
Jewell said programs like this show him that the community cares deeply about its veterans, and it gives him a strong belief in the United States and the freedoms it provides.
“I’m proud that people can live the lives they live because I chose to do what I did,” Jewell said.
Timothy Lacy, a U.S. Army veteran from Paris, Tennessee, said the program gives him an immense sense of pride in being a veteran.
“Being a veteran is tough in a lot of ways,” Lacy said. “There’s a sort of disillusionment around how veterans are treated in this country, and sometimes it can feel like no one is looking out for you. Programs that take care of veterans, even in small ways, are very close to my heart.”
Click here to see the full ‘Heroes on the Horicon’ video and learn more about the program.