We often associate the term ‘celebration’ with a boisterous and spirited crowd enjoying the moment. Although that was certainly the tone of the majority of Trinity Oaks’ Hero Celebration event for veterans, there were quiet moments of healing and introspective peace.

After a long day in the field, hunting for trophy nilgai, Trinity Oaks supporter and singer/songwriter Thom Shepherd sang Riding with Private Malone acoustically around the campfire for the veterans. One of the veterans asked, “Are you serious…? You really wrote that song?” The hardened war veteran choked up with emotion and said that when he buried his best friend who was killed in combat they had played that song at his funeral. Shortly thereafter he asked Thom to play it again……

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Trinity Oaks, a San Antonio based nonprofit, who hosts hunting and fishing outreach programs throughout the world, recently held their annual veterans’ Hero Celebration event in Texas! This year’s retreat was for ten veterans who were from the Army, Navy, and Marine military branches. Trinity Oaks’ Hero Celebrations serve Purple Heart and live combat veterans of all conflicts and all generations. Events are designed for therapeutic time outdoors and to show humble appreciation to the men and women who have served and sacrificed.

After an escort of 75 motorcyclists from San Antonio, the veterans were treated to four days of world-class trophy nilgai hunting on the El Sauz Ranch in Port Mansfield, Texas. The veterans hunted, fished, enjoyed gourmet meals, and live music every evening around the campfire. A veteran described his experience as “mentally renewing” because of the “amazing time bonding with the volunteers and other veterans.” Trinity Oaks works hard to show veterans they are not alone and support them to redefine their new normal after military service.

Many of the veterans on this year’s Hero Celebration had sustained IED injuries or had received sniper fire leaving them with traumatic brain injuries, PTSD, or physical disabilities. Through adaptive methods, such as Trinity Oaks’ Action Trackchair, a customized all-terrain wheelchair on tracks, veterans moved beyond physical limitations to enjoy the hunting and fishing with increased mobility and independence.

Trinity Oaks depends heavily on their volunteers to support the outreach work. Recently Eric Gonzales was made a new Advisory Council member and was asked why he supports Trinity Oaks. “After being in the military and being deployed, not all of my friends returned home; [volunteering] helps me deal with my own issues. I want to make a difference as much as I can to those who did come home,” replied Gonzales, an Air Force veteran.

At the end of each trip the harvested fish and game are processed and given to the participants families or distributed to others who are in need of a nutritious meal. Trinity Oaks’ support does not end with the event. In fact, it is only the beginning as Trinity Oaks facilitates continued support through event alumni reunions, family gatherings, caregivers retreats, and opportunities for our service men and women to volunteer in their community – which ensures the cycle of giving back continues.

Do you know or are you a wounded veteran who would benefit from a therapeutic outdoor retreat?

Please complete the online application from available on trinityoaks.org.

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Everyone of us has the ability to give back (time, talent or treasure) and no matter how small you may think your gift may be it is truly making a difference in people’s lives.

Special thank you to those who participated and gave during our Under the Oaks Gala “Fund A Hunt!” We raised over $25,000 that evening for this event – you personally made a difference in these veterans’ lives. Thank you!

Once again we want to acknowledge all of the sponsors, donors and volunteers that have made Trinity Oaks the organization it has become.