October 4, 2016 --
Wounded Warriors experience hunting despite their injuries through sportsmen’s association
“I would like to end the program tomorrow, because it would mean that no more young people are getting injured at war,” said Fred Salo, president of the Quantico Injured Military Sportsmen Association (QIMSA) and head of the Range Control Section, Range and Training Area Management Branch, Training and Education Command.
Unfortunately, we’re not quite there yet. So for the next few years, QIMSA will be around to provide all-encompassing, expense-free outdoor experiences for wounded warriors from all branches of service. The organization will hold its first event of the upcoming hunting season—an archery deer hunt—aboard Quantico Oct. 21-22.
Salo founded QIMSA in 2003 along with Mac Garner, Dan Hensley and Euel Tritt, who is currently head game warden for MCBQ. They had spent time visiting with wounded warriors at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland and found that many of them had an interest in hunting. So they decided to bring a group of warriors to MCBQ for a weekend of hunting and camaraderie.
Thirteen years later, QIMSA has sponsored 1,100 hunts for injured service members—about 10 per season. Veterans have travelled from as far as Maine, Georgia, and Ohio to hunt for deer, turkey, small game, waterfowl and bear aboard MCBQ.
“The hunts are one hundred percent all-inclusive,” Salo said. “From the time they leave their unit to the time they return, they don’t pay for anything.”
QIMSA provides lodging, food, ammunition, blindsand crossbows or hunting firearms for the events. All firearms and archery are donated by industry. The organization’s largest supporter in the National Capital Region is Green Top Sporting Goods.
The QIMSA organization has all-terrain track wheelchairs available for veterans with mobility challenges and can provide specially-made crossbow and gun mounts for veterans with missing limbs.
“We can support any level of disability or injury,” Salo said.
Each wounded warrior gets a one-on-one escort from the QIMSA volunteer guides, who are all familiar with hunting regulations and techniques and hunting areas aboard MCBQ. This is to ensure the safety of all participants. Salo said family members are also encouraged to come and share the experience with their wounded service members.
The veterans get the benefit of time with fellow outdoorsmen and camaraderie with others who understand what it’s like to be a wounded service member dealing with the impacts of his or her injuries and undergoing the rehabilitation process.
“It’s good physical and emotional/mental therapy,” Salo said. “It’s also a huge confidence-builder and part of the overall healing process. They see that they can still do these activities even with their new limitations.”
QIMSA welcomes service members from all branches of the military because it is still the only established outdoor hunting program in the Department of Defense. Last year, the organization received the DoD Spirit of Hope award, which recognizes those who epitomize the legacy of entertainer Bob Hope by caring for the military’s “most precious resource”—its people.
QIMSA will sponsor a muzzleloader deer hunt Nov. 11-12 and a shotgun deer hunt Dec. 16-17. For more information, visit http://www.qimsa.org/.