TABOR CITY, NC (WBTW) – A local nonprofit hosted a four-day Hog Hunt this weekend for Special Operations veterans wounded while on duty.
Special Operations Wounded Warriors hosted their 8th annual Hog Hunt at a camp in Tabor City, NC. SOWW invited 11 Special Operations Forces veterans to the event and paid for all of their expenses, including the campers they stayed in.
“When you’re in the service, you’re going a 100 miles an hour. Then when you come back to stateside, it’s like an immediate stop. So a lot of anxiety built up there. You don’t know what to do or where to put that energy. That’s what this hunt provides for guys,” says Ron Bellan. He’s a retired Navy Seal Master Chief who spent 25 years as a Seal. Bellan’s been a part of the Hog Hunt for several years and says the weekend of hunting, shooting, and camping in the woods does a whole lot of healing. “It brings together a brotherhood.”
“They get to enjoy fellowship and spend time with guys that are going through similar situations as they may be with some of the trauma their bodies have faced,” says SOWW Vice President Joel Pellici. He says the hunt grows bigger each year, as former participants, like Keith Morges, come back to offer support to the newcomers. “My intent in coming back in the support role was to give somebody the feeling of hope. Because I felt absolutely hopeless for so long,” says Morges.
He served for 16 years before he was medically retired 2 years ago. Morges has also been battling post traumatic stress disorder since 2009. “I went through a phase of, ‘Nobody understands me. I’m the only one’ “. He says the support he’s received each year he’s been to the hunt has been life changing, especially the time he spent with a mental health professional SOWW brought in for the event. “I’ve never felt the relief, I’ve never felt the hope that I feel just on the initial meeting that we had.” And Morges says it’s changed his outlook on life as a civilian. “I feel like I have purpose now and I’m going to be ok.”
If you would like to volunteer for or donate to Special Operation Wounded Warriors, http://sowwcharity.com/, You can also nominate Special Operations Forces servicemen for SOWW’s outdoor experiences on the website.