While sitting in a tree stand in Nebraska 10 years ago, Gene Palumbo had an idea which established a nonprofit organization that has since changed dozens of United States veterans lives.
U.S. Warriors Outdoors is an organization which gives back to veterans by helping them to reconnect and interact with their passions through outdoor activities such as fishing, hunting and hiking.
“There’s something about getting these guys outside that allows them to do something they’ve never done before or something they used to enjoy doing,” said Gene Palumbo, U.S. Warriors Outdoors founder. “It helps them to relax and purge while encouraging them to do things.”
Started in late 2012, USWO has gone on 11 trips with 28 more planned through early 2014. Each trip, the organization takes two to five veterans on trips to different lakes, ranches, and ranges throughout Nebraska and Colorado to spend a few days hunting or fishing with their fellow veterans. Soon the program will offer more outdoor adventures, such as white water rafting, mountain hikes, and parasailing to help reconnect and encourage veterans.
For veterans like Jean Plank, who served in the Army for 20 years, this organization has not only helped him reconnect with his passion for the outdoors but also to other veterans.
“It’s nice to meet other veterans, to share stories and just listen; I like having the camaraderie with other wounded vets,” Plank said.
Through these trips, Palumbo and the USWO staff serve and give back to veterans in ways they didn’t expect.
“It has been 42 years since I got out of the service and I have never been treated and appreciated like I have been since I met Gene, the USWO Program and all the volunteers that support it,” said Mike Cini, a Vietnam veteran.
And that’s what Palumbo’s idea was about, connecting veterans with an opportunity to relax, reconnect and feel rejuvenated by doing activities they enjoy.
U.S. Warriors Outdoors is open to all veterans. It’s for those who have been wounded; those wish to connect with other veterans; those who just stepped off a plane home to those who served 40 years ago.
To apply for a program, visit www.uswarriorsoutdoors.org/application.