It was there by that fire on the November 2012 evening that my life took on an entirely different meaning. I felt resolve and understanding rush through me, and the fire had seemingly become a little warmer.I cried that night for the first time in years. I could feel the warm tears streaming down my face. Happy that I had found that bit of feeling and ability to feel once again.Ultimately, what helped me was the overall experience and ability to relax and release all the carried stress in the company of folks who really cared and loved me.Soldiers Freedom Outdoors certainly brought me back to a place where I was able to continue moving in a positive direction. For that, I am forever thankful.
The men and women of Soldiers Freedom Outdoors never gave up on me and continue to be supportive to this day. I am not the man I once was, but I am far better now, largely in part due to the efforts and support I received from Soldiers Freedom Outdoors.
I recently visited Soldier’s Freedom Outdoors on a hunting trip.From the moment I arrived, I experienced friendliness from the people who were responsible for the trip, as well as other veterans there. The trip is planned for the veteran by Dan, who runs the organization, as well as the volunteers who are at the camp throughout the weekend. Everyone there takes great care of each veteran there and it is an amazing, stress free experience.From the time I arrived, we were told it was our weekend to relax and enjoy what was there. We could fish, hunt, swim, sleep, or whatever else we felt like doing.The program is geared towards helping veterans find peace and quiet, along with a friendly stress free environment. While hunting, or just doing what you felt like doing at the time, meals are prepared and provided for everyone there. I met a lot of friendly people who would show up bringing food and snacks who genuinely seemed to enjoy helping every veteran there.The feeling I got from speaking with other veterans and sharing stories, along with the dedication and willingness to sit and talk and laugh with us by the volunteers and staff, is hard to find.I would go on this trip every month if I could, because it truly does bring peace and relaxation to vets. Being a veteran who has been injured in war, and deals with the struggles of mental pains brought home from the experiences in Iraq, and as a police officer now, it is amazing to find an experience that allows you to let the outside stresses disappear for a short time and enjoy life and the outdoors, as well as good company and being surrounded by people who truly want to assist you in enjoying yourself.All I can say is thank you very much for a memorable weekend to Dan and his staff of volunteers who helped out throughout the trip, and I can’t wait to do it again.
Slowly, not realizing it, I began to stop thinking about the war so much and other things haunting me from the past. Soldier Freedom Outdoors was doing something that the VA and others could not. It was giving me my life back as it was meant to be.
My name is Matt Achey and I’ve had the privilege of hunting and fishing with Soldier’s Freedom Outdoors with twice now, and both times did me a world of good.I have to thank Matt Kramer for turning me on to this outstanding organization and the fine people that run it.I’ve been in the USAF now for 17 years, as a Tactical Air Control Party. Over time, my job has worn me out - and finding an appropriate outlet to normalize can be difficult. DanDiMarco, Jack Dorton, and the rest of the crew down there get it. These guysunderstand and really make you feel welcome. Everything about my experience there was great, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the great BBQ that Eric made for us.These guys do so much for you when you’re there and it’s not intrusive, you don’t feel like you’re under a microscope, and best of all, you can just relax.I really appreciated being out there and I can’tthank you enough for what you do.
I’d like to take a moment to reflect on our recent retreat to Camp Freedom.While making plans for the holidays, we quickly realized that a cross country trip home was not going to happen. How does a father break it to his 3 and 5 year old sons that they are not going to be able to spend the holidays with their grandparents after they had talked about it all year? I’ll tell you how with two simple but powerful words, “Camp Freedom.”I had been invited to attend a veteran’s outdoor retreat with Soldiers Freedom Outdoors in the past, when Camp Freedom was just a dream. Today that dream is alive and well.My family and I chose to spend the holidays at the ranch to decompress and reconnect both as husband and wife and as a family. Nothing grounds you like watching your child’s first horse riding experience, fishing for brim in the ranch’s lake, and evenings sitting around a warm camp fire. We had a great time explaining to the boys the different calls of Wood Ducks and Sandhill Cranes, while sitting in hunting blinds waiting on the elusive wild boar. The hogs may have eluded us but we were able to observe deer, rabbits, dove, cranes, and ducks.My family was overwhelmed by the generosity of Soldiers Freedom Outdoors and the local community. Our intent was to be self-sufficient, but it would not be, from the cookies waiting on the counter to suppers donated by local restaurants, from the small crafts to occupy the boys to the amazing home cooked BBQ, we were treated like family the moment we stepped through the door.I’d like to thank the Soldiers Freedom Outdoors staff, mentors, and everyone involved in supporting our active duty military and veterans.
My name is Franchon Ambrose. I am a disabled veteran of the United States Army.I was able to take part in the Soldier Freedom Outdoors Retreat right before Christmas and I just want to ask you to please KEEP THIS PROGRAM ALIVE.I’m not just a veteran, I’m a single mother raising five children, dealing with PTSD and so many other things in my life. Before I came to this retreat, I felt alone, misunderstood, I lost the want to want anything for myself.This retreat was a home away from home for me. We were welcomed with open arms by Gail. The amount of love that was shared by volunteers was beyond believable, and yet it seemed like I was home.This retreat isn’t for show or popularity. This retreat was a soul cleanse for me and the other veterans that were there with me. By the last day, the Veterans and I made Mrs. Gail sit down while we cooked breakfast because we really felt home.It was a blessing to be at a place where we weren’t interrogated about our injuries, our experiences, but we were shown how to embrace who we are now. We learned how to just embrace the newness of who we are now.I implore you to please keep this program alive. Besides, I made a promise to Mrs. Gail that I’d return. Thank you for all that you are and all that you do for us veterans.