TWO AMERICAN SOLDIERS sustained significant injuries across the street from one another, a year apart, while serving in Fallujah, Iraq. Years later, chance brought these two American heroes together while on a hunting trip with Operation Outdoor Freedom, where they realized their shared Falluja experience sitting around a campfire.
Since Operation Outdoor Freedom was created in 2011, the Florida Forest Service has hosted more than 2,500 wounded veterans on outdoor activities, like guided alligator hunts, deer and hog hunts, quail and turkey hunts, freshwater fishing, canoeing, and more. For some of the wounded veterans who participated, it was the first opportunity to get outdoors since returning home from duty.
Florida’s agriculture community has been an incredible supporter of this program since its inception and recently made a significant contribution to the Operation Outdoor Freedom Camp at Peace River. Along a quiet stretch of the Peace River in southwest Florida, this camp, once complete, will be the program’s second site fully dedicated to providing wounded veterans with outdoor opportunities free of charge.
Plans for the site include the renovation of an on-site house, construction of an outdoor kitchen and dining area, skinning shed, fire circle, paved ADA walkways, a brand new bunk house with full bathing facilities, and a screened porch. This facility will help the us provide the best outdoor recreational opportunities possible for our wounded veterans.
Operation Outdoor Freedom is a special way of connecting Florida’s natural resources with the men and women who courageously and selflessly put their lives on the line for the rest of us. It’s our hope that the Operation Outdoor Freedom Camp at Peace River will help us give back to those who have done so much for us.
Visit OperationOutdoorFreedom.com for more information about how we’re working to honor Florida’s wounded veterans and how you can get involved. All funding for Operation Outdoor Freedom is generated through private donations and support.
article by COMMISSIONER OF AGRICULTURE ADAM H. PUTNAM