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October 2, 2018

Defense Dept. Recognizes HAVA for Veteran Outreach


By Mark Oliva

Caption: Left to Right – Honorable Gregory J. Slavonic, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Eva Carwile, HAVA Military Liaison, Tom Taylor, HAVA Executive Director, Heath Gunns, HAVA Outreach Manager,Rear Admiral, Katherine A. McCabe, Reserve Director, Military Personnel, Plans and Policy, Commander Steve Macdonald, who nominated HAVA for the award

There’s something special when veterans get a chance to get back into the woods or step together to a firing line on a range. It’s more than a hunt or tattered target. For many, it’s healing.

It’s a simple truth Honored American Veterans Afield (HAVA) understood. Last week, Pentagon officials took time to recognize the contribution HAVA’s made to intervening on behalf of veterans and their families.

Several officials from HAVA were on hand at the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes to be awarded the Spirit of Hope award as the U.S. Navy’s nominee for raising awareness, increasing confidence, and assisting injured men and women returning from military missions by reconnecting them with outdoor activities. The award is named in honor of Bob Hope, the legendary entertainer who made it his life’s work to reach out to the military, especially during times of war.

“Standing in the Pentagon with HAVA Teammates and being honored by the U.S. Navy and Department of Defense on behalf on an entire industry that so wholeheartedly supports our military, veterans and disabled veterans, was beyond humbling,” said HAVA’s Chairman and Executive Director, Tom Taylor.

8,200 Veterans Reached

For more than a decade, HAVA has been quietly working on their mission of connecting veterans through their passion for the outdoors and recreational shooting. They organize events, large and small, to focus on healing from the physical, emotional and spiritual scars of war and to help veterans and their families transition to new chapters of their lives.

HAVA was nominated by Navy Cmdr. Steven Macdonald of the Naval Sea Logistics Center. He noted the 148 different shooting hunting and outdoor events that have taken place across the United States. They’ve directly connected with 8,200 veterans from all branches and their families with the intent of getting them outside, connected with other veterans and reconnected to hunting and recreational shooting.

“When you look at the 11-year history of HAVA providing support to our wounded and injured veterans, they fully embody the dedication and commitment that Mr. Hope exhibited over his 50 years of service to our troops,” Macdonald explained in a press release. “They are a great group of caring and dedicated people.”

Grass-Roots Volunteers

HAVA’s work with veterans began in 2007 when a committee of hunting and shooting sports executives wanted to help veterans heal from the physical, emotional and spiritual scars of war. The vision was to assist those veterans in their healing processes and aide in their transition to a life after the one they enjoyed in uniform. Each of their events are the result of grass-roots organization and volunteers.

“HAVA has been an effort that would not have been possible had an entire industry not stood behind our mission with financial support, products and most importantly, so many volunteers,” Taylor added. “The entire shooting, hunting, defense and outdoor industry should feel honored to have earned this award.”

You may also be interested in: Range Day Brings Veterans, Families Together