I wanted to take the time to write you and express my deep and heartfelt gratitude for what you and your group are doing for the Veterans of this great country of ours. I feel honored to have been a guest of you and the people that share your vision. The genuine caring that you and your organization have shown me and my fellow veterans has touched me deeply. Your honest effort to not only tell, but to show veterans that we are appreciated is something extraordinary. To know that there are people who do realize that sacrifices are made not only by those serving in the military but those that are left behind left me in awe.
I feel that what you envision for the future Americas Freedom Lodge and all the activities that will be available to disabled veterans and their families will make an impact on the lives of those that you touch with your generosity and hospitality and leave them with a memory that will last a lifetime as it did me.
With the physical issues I deal with on a daily basis, I thought that my hunting days were a thing of the past. I am not as mobile as I used to be, and felt that there probably wasn’t anyway that I would be able to enjoy those days in the field again. Thanks to you and your vision of helping vets with disabilities, I have been able to experience the feeling of being out hunting again.
I wish I could express the exhilaration that I felt sitting in the blind listening to the Turkeys gobbling as the sun was coming up. The excitement of watching as the Turkeys came down the ridge in response to the calls. Watching them slowly work their way towards the blind, and then the shot and harvest of the bird. Even if I hadn’t harvested a turkey, experiencing the hunt and just being in the field again brought back a feeling that I didn’t think I would experience again. For me, being out in the field again gave me a sense of well being that I hadn’t felt in a long time. It was a sort of soul cleansing experience for me.
I lived in Montana for 20 years and loved being in the field hunting elk, deer, antelope, and pheasant. It is one of the things I truly loved to do, but in recent years I have had several surgeries on both knees, and eventually a total left knee replacement. That has limited the amount of time I can spend walking and standing. It had limited the amount of time I could spend doing the thing I loved the most, spending time out in the field hunting. I had subsequently given away my hunting clothing and gear as I figured I would not be hunting again.
I was reflecting back on the first time over a year ago talking to you when I came across the website for Americas Freedom Lodge. I was moved to call and thank you for what you are doing, because I hadn’t ever heard of or seen anything like this before. You had graciously invited me several times over the course of the following 12 months to come and see the property where the lodge was going to be built and to enjoy time in the outdoors and hunt. I was astounded to find out that neither you or your board members are veterans, and that you are doing this to say thank you to those that have served. I remembered thinking that I really needed to drive down to meet you and see what this was really like. Then when you invited me to come for the Spring Turkey hunt, my wife convinced me to just make the time and go. I am so thankful that I listened to her and made the time with that invitation to come meet you and to hunt. I am grateful for the invitation to return in the fall to bow hunt for deer, and am anxiously anticipating that experience.
I thank God that there are people like yourself and those that share your vision that appreciate the sacrifices that have been made by our servicemen and servicewomen. The whole experience was very relaxing and highly therapeutic for me. I felt like I had known everyone there forever, and I felt a camaraderie that I hadn’t experienced or expected to experience again since retiring from the Air Force. May God Bless you and yours for what you are doing.
Bob Baker, TSgt, USAF, Ret