by Mark Chesnut - Thursday, March 23, 2023
There is healing in hunting, and nobody knows that better than Lt. Gen. Leroy Sisco USA, (Ret.).
One might think that after 42 years in the U.S. Army, Sisco would have been content to sit back and enjoy a quiet retirement. But his desire to help those brave heroes who served with him and under him all those years was much too great to allow for that.
Consequently, in 2007 Sisco launched the Military Warriors Support Foundation (MWSF), an organization of which he remains CEO, to provide programs that facilitate a smooth and successful transition for our nation’s combat-wounded heroes and Gold Star families.
“What you think about is how thankful you are to the heroes who serve with you and served for you,” said Sisco, also a member of the National Rifle Association and the NRA Board of Directors. “And you want to say, ‘Thank you,’ but you don’t know how. Then you recognize that there are a lot of wounded heroes and know of the problems they’re having, and you want to find a way to help them.”
Through the organization’s five programs—Homes4WoundedHeroes, Transportation4Heroes, Skills4Life, Leadership4Life and Hope4Heroes—the organization has been able to help literally thousands of wounded veterans and Gold Star spouses. In fact, in MWSF’s 15-plus years, it has given worthy heroes 1,000 mortgage-free, gift tax-free homes and 176 payment-free, gift tax free vehicles in all 50 states, along with taking more than 100 heroes on hunting, fishing and golfing trips each year. In addition to the vehicles and homes, the families receive financial literacy training—three years for home recipients and one year for those receiving a vehicle.
Other MWSF programs also greatly benefit wounded heroes. Leadership4 Life is a personal growth and development program designed to give heroes the best chance possible to become the person they were created to be, while Hope4Heroes is a one-year program that supports veteran-owned small businesses through personalized financial mentorship and situational needs.
Of particular interest to hunters is the Skills4Life Outdoor Recreation program. It provides recreational outings and peer-to-peer mentorship through hunting, fishing and golfing adventures for combat-wounded veterans and unmarried Gold Star spouses whose loved one was killed in action.
While most hunters understand how therapeutic being out in nature can be—especially when it comes to scenarios like sitting on a high mountain ridge with a rifle in hand glassing for big bull elk—there are other aspects that make this program so important to those who participate in it.
“The camaraderie of getting out on a hunt with like-minded heroes with similar challenges really pays big dividends for them,” Sisco said. “A lot of them have the same problems, and it’s good to be able to share. Then later, so many of them will advise others about the program. ‘Do this because it really helped me.’”
Sisco said he was on a hunt with some wounded heroes late last year when one of the veterans asked if he could speak with him outside. “He said, ‘I want you to know that I had planned where, when and how I was going to kill myself. But, after participating in this program, I have no desire for that at all now—I don’t even think about it anymore, and I want to thank you for saving my life’” Sisco said. “I was overwhelmed. I couldn’t even talk.”
In fact, experts in the field estimate that through its variety of programs, MWSF has saved more than 100 lives over the years—probably close to 160 or 170. Of course, as Sisco puts it: “Even if we just saved one it would be worth all the effort. But to save 100 and probably a lot more, you can’t even put your arms around that.”
Finding veterans to attend the hunting events isn’t hard as past participants tend to tell their friends about the experience.
“It’s just an incredible deal,” Sisco said. “I have seen some of them come and hardly even talk to anybody. Three or four days later they’re patting everybody on the back and having a great time!”
Note that most of these hunts aren’t your standard deer or turkey hunt.
“A lot of them have hunted, but they’ve never killed the kinds of animals we take and let them get—elk, eland, kudu,” Sisco said. “I’ve had them just sit there and cry they’re so excited about getting one of those animals. It’s a hunt of a lifetime.”
Landowners, of course, play a big part in the success of the hunting portion of the program, as do some within the firearms industry.
“We’ve got so many ranches that want to help our heroes and want to take them hunting,” Sisco said. “They love our heroes as much as we do. We’ve also had several gun companies give rifles for them to hunt with. Steve Hornady [Hornady Manufacturing Inc.] has been incredible about giving us ammunition. We just have so many people who want to help and support this effort.”
What can hunters and other NRA members do to help these wounded heroes and families affected by combat tragedies?
“They can make a donation through our website,” Sisco said, noting that for as little as $19 a month you can be a hero to a hero. “Or if they have ranches and would like to take heroes hunting on their ranches, that’s great. Anything that they would like to do to support is appreciated.”
Over the last five years, an average of 95 percent of donations have gone to programs that support the wounded heroes and Gold Star families.
Wounded heroes and Gold Star families reading this and interested in participating can click here to visit the MWSF website to learn more about the organization’s programs and how to get involved.
In reflecting on the Military Warriors Support Foundation’s years of hard work, Sisco said he never expected that the group would be able to help as many heroes as it has.
“No way, not in any way, shape or form,” he said. “It’s an unbelievable thing that I get to do. I’m shocked myself how fortunate I am to get to be a part of it. You just don’t think about it working like it has. We love our heroes who give us our freedom and we ask God to bless them all.”
About the Author
Freelance writer Mark Chesnut is the owner/editorial director at Red Setter Communications LLC in Jenks, Okla. An avid hunter, shooter and field-trialer, he has been covering Second Amendment issues and politics on a near-daily basis for over 20 years, previously serving as editor of the NRA’s America’s First Freedom.
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