By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Annual hunt supports 10-year old Wounded Warrior Project
Nine soldiers took part in the Wounded Warrior Project pheasant hunt Saturday morning. They would hit the field again that afternoon, and return to the lodge for a catered dinner Saturday night. A European style hunt was planned for Sunday morning. While the hunting was exciting, the event provided a chance for the warriors to meet other wounded warriors, joke around, and enjoy the camaraderie of being around other soldiers. From left to right: Steven Fisher, Troy Brien, James, Lynnwood Robertson, Justin Walkabout, David Johnson, Gator, and Ronald Ryker. Not showing: Josh Feinberg. - photo by VERONICA COONS, Great Bend Tribune

 “Pheasants Forever does amazing things for the Wounded Warrior Project every year,” said Troy Brien, the newly appointed alumni manager of the newest Wounded Warrior Project office expected to open in Kansas City in mid summer 2014.  “We’re excited they’ve chosen to give back in this way.”  
Pheasants Forever “Rooster Booster” chapter #504, with Crosby’s Wildgame Adventures, hosted a Wounded Warriors pheasant hunt Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 22 and 23 at the  “Hidden Hollow” lodge at Albert.  It was the second time in as many years, and the PF chapter hopes it will continue to be an annual tradition for many years to come.  
“In our opinion, this was a way our chapter members and sponsors could give back to those who have sacrificed for our freedom,” said Scot Moeder of Pheasants Forever Chapter #504.     
Sponsors that helped make the hunt possible this year were East Kansas Chemical,  Straub International,  Smith Supply,  Farmers Bank and Trust,  Six Star Productions,  J & D Gamebirds, Great Bend Equipment and Dakota Dirt.

Peer mentors
Brien accompanied the group of warriors which consisted of seven first-timers and two warriors returning to Crosby’s this year as peer mentors.  They are LtC. David Johnson and Ssg. Ronald Ryker, both of whom spoke with the Tribune during the 2013 hunt.  
Johnson has been in the military over 30 years.  He stood wall patrol as the Berlin Wall was dismantled, and later served tours of duty in both Iraq and Afghanistan.  On his fourth tour of Afghanistan, he was injured in a truck bombing, where he lost vision in one eye, had most of his teeth knocked out, along with receiving neurological injuries. Johnson was reassigned to the wounded Warrior Transition Unit (WTU) at Ft. Riley, and joined the Wounded Warrior Project.  Last year was his first experience with pheasant hunting.  
Riley, a member of 11 Bravo, a Bradley tank brigade stationed out of Ft. Riley, was injured in 2003 when his tank was ambushed in Iraq and an rocket propelled grenade entered his tank, went through his leg and stuck in the vehicle.  He went through recovery at Ft. Riley, and then was assigned to the WTU.   
Both warriors are giving back by helping their fellow wounded warriors have a successful hunt.  It’s something that embodies the sentiment behind the Wounded Warrior Project 10 year anniversary logo, “a decade of service, a lifetime of commitment.”  The logo pictures a warrior carrying a wounded comrade on his back.  
“One day we were the warrior on the soldier’s back that needed to be carried off the battlefield.  One day, they will be the warrior carrying another through the process,” Brien said.  “What you’re seeing in action this weekend is that principal.”

Decade of service
This year marks the 10-year anniversary of the Wounded Warrior Project.  The idea was born in 2003, when a veteran began assembling backpacks to warriors displaced to military hospitals due to injury on the battlefield.  The packs were filled with basic personal necessities like t-shirts, socks, shorts and pants. It was a small but meaningful way of helping soldiers who suddenly found themselves with none of their belongings to begin to regain their sense of normalcy, said Tim Horton LCPL, USMC, RET, the alumni manager of the San Antonio unit of the Wounded Warrior Project in an earlier Tribune interview.  
As part of the 10-year celebration of the project, Brien pointed to the MSNBC program, “Taking the Hill,” where a segment called “Wounded: The Battle at Home,” shines a weekly spotlight on an individual wounded warrior.  The program airs Sunday, Feb. 23 at 1 p.m.
“The important thing to keep in mind is all of this is about them, not us,” Brien said.  “Its about the warriors, their recovery, and how they are doing.”
Brien is excited about the opening of the new Kansas City office.  There is a vast number of wounded warriors in Kansas and Missouri, Brien said, a little over 1,100.  He and his staff are reaching out to find more who might qualify within these states so they can inform them of the services and opportunities, like the pheasant hunt this weekend, that are available to them.
Wounded Warriors Project also works with other veterans organizations that efficiently provide resources needed for the recovery process and to help these soldiers thrive, either in continued service in the military, or as they rejoin the civilian world.  
He encourages people and organizations that are interested in supporting the project to visit the website,, and click on the “Give Back” button for ideas and instructions for how to get involved.