Florida program provides special hunting events for over 300 wounded vets

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FL Veterans 1The second season of hunting, fishing and tours of state lands hosted through Operation Outdoor Freedom are wrapping up for more than 300 wounded veterans as Memorial Day approaches.

Operation Outdoor Freedom was launched in 2011 by Comm. of Agriculture Adam Putnam and led by the Florida Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Florida Forest Service to provide recreation for wounded veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces through guided hunting events and fishing trips.

“These men and women risked their lives to protect our country, and we’re proud to honor their service on Memorial Day and every day,” Putnam said. “Operation Outdoor Freedom invites our nation’s heroes to enjoy the beauty and recreational opportunities of Florida’s great outdoors.”

For some of the wounded veterans who participated, it was their first opportunity to experience outdoor recreational activities since returning home from duty.

Legislation for the program was introduced in 2011 by Commissioner Putnam, Sen. Alan Hayes and Rep. Greg Steube, to designate special hunt areas on state lands, and to allow the state to accept private funding to cover any costs.

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Since Operation Outdoor Freedom was established, the Florida Forest Services has hosted 50 Operation Outdoor Freedom events on 15 state forests, private ranches and timber lands and the state’s coast. The Florida Forest Service has had a prior history of working with the Wounded Warrior Project.

The recent deer hunts, turkey hunts and hog hunts took place throughout Florida from Pine Log State Forest in Washington County to Picayune Strand State Forest in Collier County, according to Putnam’s office.

Areas of state forests dedicated to this effort are fully equipped to accommodate the needs of wounded veterans, and provide a unique opportunity for recreation and rehabilitation.

The Florida Forest Service is currently planning fishing trips for wounded veterans this summer at no cost to the participants, as all funding is through private donations.

For more information, go to Operation Outdoor Freedom.

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