Our founders hunt at Valley Park Plantation occurs just one time a year. It is our premier hunt and the opportunity for our Purple Heart members to have one on one time with our founders Dan and Hunter Fordice. The wait list for this hunt invite is long as many of our members look forward to the opportunity to thank personally those that started it all, it is also an opportunity for the founders to thank the individual veterans that have helped the Warrior Bonfire in return for what the program has done for them. This location is where the Warrior Bonfire Program began, where the idea was sparked and the focus on grouping small numbers together at a time to achieve the optimum environment needed to have some difficult, open communications among injured veterans. "You give me 5 or 6 others just like me, sitting around a campfire and that is all the therapy I need," stated Greg Williams in 2012. Since that time we have provided that very environment 68 times across 18 states, having grown from 4 events a year to 18 with a current goal of 24 per year. Thanks to our donors, sponsors, and volunteers we trust that we will get there very soon!
The Valley Park Plantation Founders Hunt certainly will make a hunter feel good with the beautiful scenery and the abundance of targets but as we like to say often, "it is not about the hunt!" "It doesn't matter how many deer we kill, what matters is the chance to honor our fallen brothers at the bonfire and spend time with others that understand that loss," Purple Heart Veteran Allen P. Our members have also reported that simply sitting quietly in the outdoors helps them to find peace in a life of struggles with managing symptoms from traumatic brain injuries (TBI), post traumatic stress (PTSd) and physical injuries. Learning the ability to quiet the mind and think of positive thoughts helps to curb unhealthy sleep habits that can lead to depression and thoughts of suicide.
At the Warrior Bonfire Program, we continually work to help our members to discover ways to better themselves, their support/family relationships and to find purpose that leads to productivity in their personal and local communities. Healing beyond injury is what we do! Please help us to spread the word for our most deserving veterans, those that have sacrificed for our freedoms.
We thank our partners and sponsors for making this possible but in particular, ESPN Out of Bounds The Zone Radio Show in Jackson, MS for raising $10 at the first Cornhole Classic, Patriot Motorsports and Valley Park Plantation.
If you have ever had a true traumatic experience that you believe in your heart of hearts is unique to you and there is no one on the planet that can understand or relate, well then this story is for you, to show you that you are way wrong!
Recently on one of our retreat events two of our Purple Hearts were given the opportunity to come face to face with someone that completely understood their trauma, injury, and recovery process. Retired U.S. Army SSG Brian B. and CPT David I., in December 2018 at our 67th Bonfire in Johnson's Bayou, LA, began to share with each other how they each became amputees. As their stories unfolded they were amazed to learn that they each had been sitting in the same type of vehicle in the same seat with their leg under the radio mount, when IED blasts changed their lives forever. Although they were in different locations in Afghanistan on different dates, the resulting injuries, fears, anxieties and recovery paths were the same. Each men having lost their leg in the same way gave these two Purple Heart Veterans a connection and bond forever.
"I have never met anyone that was injured in the same way I was, it was really neat to hear David saying the same things I was. I can't explain it but it was just amazing!" Brian B., Purple Heart Army
At the Warrior Bonfire Program our retreat events for post 9/11 Purple Heart Veterans are geared towards providing small groups of 6 at a time, the ability to be with those like themselves. Those combat veterans whose direction in life was changed, whose career path ended, and whose will to live was tested and in some cases still tested daily. Please share our stories and help us serve more, it's the least we can do in return for their sacrifice.
WBP Team writers
Blogs are written by staff members of the Warrior Bonfire Program along with guest writers.