As thousands of troops return from Afghanistan, our society needs to embrace their courage and provide opportunities that bring them back into the mainstream.

Some men and women have physical injuries, while other suffer mentally from the day-to-day trauma of war.

Natalie Krebs relates an excellent example of how our favorite pastimes can do so much good for our nation’s heroes, in this post from the OutdoorLife blog:

When Marines Tony Mullis and Michael Boucher lost their legs in Afghanistan, they turned to hunting and fishing to help them recover. Then the Georgia sportsmen created Amputee Outdoors to share their rehab recipe with other veterans.

Nisson AK 1 051Outdoor Life: Lots of outdoor programs cater to injured vets. What sets you apart?
Tony Mullis: I’m only starting to hear about the hundreds of programs out there, so I can’t say what we do is completely unique. But from my experiences attending sponsored hunts while recovering, the difference is we do normal hunting. We don’t hunt from a truck bed or behind high fences.

OL: Why is that important?
TM: When these guys go home to their families and their normal life—when they don’t have hospital-sponsored hunting trips anymore—they need to be able to hunt or fish by themselves and feel like they did before. Our goal is to help them realize that.

OL: What’s your own experience?
TM: While on hospital leave for Christmas, I asked my father-in-law if I could hunt in his woods. I sat on the ground for a bit but didn’t really enjoy it. When I went back to the house, I found a ladder stand on the ground. I set it up in a tree, and after some work, I realized I could climb it. The next day I went back in the woods, climbed up again, and sat there by myself. It opened another door to my independence.