|10/7/2014 2:12:00 PM|
War Fighter Outfitters launched in Sisters
Engaging in favorite activities in the great outdoors can be healing. Nobody knows that better than Brett Miller. He's found solace in outdoor pursuits ever since returning to Sisters as a permanently disabled military veteran, severely injured in Iraq by an improvised explosive device.
|The all-veteran board and officers of War Fighter Outfitters: (L-R) Doug Gannon; Robin Benson; McKibben Womack; Casey Vantress; Jonathan Santiago; Alan Santiago; and President Brett Miller. photo by Jim Cornelius|
Now Miller and his fellow Sisters Country veterans are working to provide that kind of support and solace to hundreds of other wounded veterans through War Fighter Outfitters. The newly minted nonprofit is a guide and outfitter service with an all-veteran board that is helping veterans get outdoors, hunting and fishing, Miller announced.
Miller will serve as president of the organization and holds the guide permits. Alan Santiago, Jonathan Santiago, Casey Vantress, Doug Gannon, Robin Benson and McKibben Womack - all local military veterans - will serve as the board of directors.
"I love what Brett does," said Gannon, an Air Force veteran who worked on the SR-71 program. "These people just need to get out - and they need people like us to draw them out."
Robin Benson, a Marine veteran, said, "Being the only female on the board, I really want to be a voice (for) the people I see all the time up at the (VA) hospital in Portland."
She noted that women like to hunt and fish, too, and she wants to make sure they know they are welcome to go out with War Fighter Outfitters.
Miller said that funding for the program, which hopes to serve 300 veterans in its first year, is coming through crowd-sourcing and private solicitations. Equipment companies have shown enthusiastic support. Miller is currently working with a premier builder of drift boats to manufacture a fully handicapped-accessible boat that can accommodate two wheelchairs.
Landowners have expressed interest in donating preference hunting tags. Having Miller as a certified guide puts usually expensive activities like hunting sheep in eastern Oregon in reach for veterans.
"The philosophy will be, if you can get here, we'll get you out," Miller said.
Miller's permit allows him to run other guides, similar to the way a fly shop operates.
Interest is huge. Vantress reported being "blown up on Facebook" with interest in fishing trips - and the outdoor community in Sisters Country has made it clear that individual sportsmen are eager to volunteer to help out anywhere needed - whether it's driving shuttles or loaning out equipment.
For more information on the program, visit www.facebook.com/warfighteroutfitters. The Facebook page also has a link to the program's www.gofundme.com/warfighteroutfitters
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