outdoor feature

outdoor feature

Submitted by <p>By Lisa Price</p><p>tnsports@tnonline.com</p> on Fri, 01/12/2018 - 23:58

Pennsylvania Outdoor Veterans

When Ryan Bowman returned from Iraq, he thought he was fine. Bowman, a member of the 56th Striker Brigade combat team, Army, Pennsylvania National Guard, “just went along, thinking I had adjusted.”

He served during Operation Iraqi Freedom. It felt great to be home but he had tough days, when he felt overwhelmed with anxiety.

“When you’re in a combat zone, things can happen at any time and you’re constantly aware of that,” Bowman said. “Then you come home, and that anxiety has become a habit; and you no longer have the camaraderie of your fellow soldiers.”

In 2015, Bowman founded Pennsylvania Outdoor Veterans, Inc., Lehighton, forming the group partially as a response to the tragic number of suicides among combat veterans. Every day, Bowman said, more than 22 veterans take their own lives.

“When I was at one of my lowest points, I met a Vietnam Veteran who encouraged to get outdoors and start hunting again,” Bowman said. “He even gave me a crossbow – and soon I had started gathering other veterans and their families together for weekend outdoor activities.”

The mission of Pennsylvania Outdoor Veterans is to reduce veteran suicide through the healing nature and camaraderie developed during outdoor activities such as camping, hunting and fishing. Bowman said the group also strives to educate the families of veterans and the public.

“It’s important for people to understand that even though someone has served and come home, there’s still a war happening on the home front,” Bowman said.

“There are so many veterans out there who need help, and it’s been documented that things like hunting, fishing, camping, any outdoor activity, helps veterans reconnect.”

Bowman said that the group has received strong support from the surrounding communities, notably the Nesquehoning VFW and the Jim Thorpe’s Sportsman’s Club.

“I’m hoping that the community support continues and grows, because we really need everyone’s help to support the activities we plan to do in 2018 (fishing derby, family camping event, handgun block shoot, and deer, bear and upland bird hunts).

“Most veterans can’t get through the adjustments along – don’t let your loved one be idle, instead be the strength and backbone that they need.”

Pennsylvania Outdoor Veterans, Inc. is a volunteer, registered, non-profit organization, which will use your donations for programs, activities, and events to benefit Veterans and their families. For more information, go to www.pennsylvaniaoutdoorveterans.org of email info@pennsylvaniaoutdoorveterans.org.

“There are many groups out there to help support veterans, and we’re just a small piece of that pie,” Bowman said. “But we’re local, here in Carbon County – where your support will help us show local veterans that they are not alone.”