Tom Melin

To Mark, Rob and the rest of the crew at America’s Freedom Lodge,

First let me say “Thank You” thank you to ALL the people involved with America’s Freedom Lodge for an experience that I will never forget. Thank you for the honor of joining you on the archery deer hunt in the Fall of 08. I’m a disabled Veteran and often times I get the feeling that I’ve been used up and forgotten…….and then something like this comes along and reminds me that not only have I NOT been forgotten but I’m appreciated and that’s all I ever wanted. I just want people to know that FREEDOM is NOT free and whether you fight for the freedom of American’s or for the freedom of people who haven’t been able to enjoy the freedom’s that we have here, there is always a price to pay and some have paid the ultimate price. We who are still here must not take our freedom for granted and we must enjoy life for those who no longer have life. I have hunted from the time I was a young child right up until the day I became a paraplegic. After being paralyzed I just couldn’t get into the woods nor could I track, or drag a deer even if I were to make it out there. Without specialized hunt’s such as this’ I would never be able to hunt therefore giving up a part of life that I have always enjoyed so much. There’s more to hunting than sitting in the woods with a bow and shooting deer. The real aspect of hunting, that someone who hasn’t experienced it can never understand, is the whole “deer camp experience” and that includes the camaraderie, the friendship, sitting around the campfire at night sharing the stories of, either the one that got away or how I killed that one. It’s the whole atmosphere and there is nothing else like it in the world. Well, America’s Freedom Lodge is deer camp. It is the whole thing, and then some. They have something here that just can’t be explained. It must be experienced. For a bunch of disabled veterans to be able to come here and meet others who have walked in the same “miles” in combat boots, and then share the “deer camp experience” with them is just an unbelievable experience. Not only was the “deer camp experience” there but this area of the United states has more deer and bigger deer than I’ve ever seen anywhere and I live in Michigan and have hunted in many different states across the nation and nothing I have seen compares to this. I know that some people may think this “thank you” is a little over the top but those people have never been to deer camp. The point is that this is an amazing place, an amazing experience, and it’s run by caring and incredibly wonderful people who know deer hunting and know how to create the “deer camp experience”. Also, America’s Freedom Lodge provides wounded/disabled Veterans, who are normally to proud to ask for help or even admit they need it, access to an amazing hunting opportunity and the help they need to enjoy it. On a more personal note, the stories I shared around the campfire were of the ones that got away. But I didn’t care about the “one that got away” I just cared about “who” I was sharing the story with and “who” was there listening to me share the story. This is as close as I can come to explaining the “deer camp experience” and now you just have to get out there and experience it for yourself, and if you’re a disabled Veteran, the America’s Freedom Lodge is DEFINITELY the place for you to do just that.

Again thank you for the experience and a hunt of a lifetime!!

This is from a Veteran, a Paratrooper and your friend forever,

Tom Melin

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