Operation Outdoor Freedom celebrated its fourth year of providing recreational events for wounded veterans over Memorial Day weekend.
Launched in 2011 by Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam, hundreds of wounded veterans across the state participate each year in fishing, hunting and boating at no cost to them or their families.
“On this Memorial Day, and every day, we appreciate the bravery of our men and women who have served our country,” Putnam said in a statement. “Although we can never repay their sacrifice, this program provides recreational opportunities for our wounded veterans in Florida’s great outdoors.”
The statement from Putnam’s office described the event:
Operation Outdoor Freedom offers wounded veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces recreational opportunities on state forests and private lands, including guided hunting events and fishing trips. During the past year, more than 650 wounded veterans participated in almost 65 activities, including alligator, deer and hog hunts; quail and turkey hunts; saltwater and freshwater fishing; and kayaking and canoeing. A new activity introduced this year allowed veterans and their families to participate in an alligator egg collection and then help the eggs hatch and a local hatchery.
Since Operation Outdoor Freedom was established in 2011, the Florida Forest Service has hosted more than 1,650 veterans on more than a dozen state forests, private ranches and timber lands, as well as the state’s coast.
Areas of Florida State Forests dedicated to this effort are fully equipped to accommodate the needs of wounded veterans, providing a unique opportunity for recreation and rehabilitation. All funding for the hunts is generated through private donations. Veterans participate at no charge. For more information on Operation Outdoor Freedom, go to OperationOutdoorFreedom.com.
The Florida Forest Service manages more than 1 million acres of public forest land while protecting 26 million acres of homes, forestland and natural resources from the devastating effects of wildfire. For more information about the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit FreshFromFlorida.com.
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