MCLEAN COUNTY — Coming back from combat is sometimes the hardest thing to do for a service member. Many come home with physical and mental injuries. But, one group wants to give back to those who gave so much.
Nine Central Illinois veterans are doing something they didn’t believe they could do after war: picking up a weapon and going hunting. But, for veterans like Chad Grensky, this day means a lot to him.
“What’s nice about this organization is it shows us as veterans, there is life after an injury. There’s life after post-traumatic stress disorder.”
In 1994, Grensky was in the Coast Guard. He fought to overthrow a Haitian coup. After that, he again enlisted in the military, but coming home was his biggest challenge.
“If I can stay in my house, I felt comfortable. Walking to the end of the driveway, just to check the mail, was very challenging.”
Grensky now has a new fight as a serviceman and that’s PTSD.
“Veterans with PTSD tend to isolate and that was one of the big things with me is isolation.”
So, the organization Healing Outside Of A Hospital, or HOOAH, and Scheels are helping them combat their war injuries. They’re doing it wearing a different kind of camo.
“As soon as we find out there’s a need, we create an event for them. So, we’re going to get them out right away. It might not be hunting, it might be fishing. It might be at my pond.”
Those with HOOAH say this gives veterans a chance to open up with others who know exactly what they’re going through.
“This allows them to open up and get the things that they’re not carrying by themselves anymore.”
Grensky says sometimes many doctors feel the best way to treat vets is with medication. He says, most times, it’s just showing an act of kindness.
Scheels provided the veterans with hunting gear and outfits.
HOOAH has only been around since 2013. The group started with just six soldiers, but now helps anywhere form 110 – 140 service members. It provides activities like hunting, fishing and golf at no cost to vets. There’s no age limit to participate.