I recently spent the weekend at Peterson Outdoor Ministries Annual Veteran’s Day Hunt. I had met Tron at the POMA conference and was able to learn a bit about his organization. My husband being active duty himself, I have a heart for veteran focused organizations in the outdoor industry. Peterson Outdoor Ministries goes beyond an organized hunt. They are purposeful in every detail of the itinerary. The focus is on the guest and their time there. Its truly a group of good people with a heart for Veterans, 1st responders and their families. The warmth of their patriotism bleeds through to the compassion they express. This interview is just a snap shot of the ministry from the words of the founder Tron Peterson.
Can you tell us about Peterson Outdoor Ministries and its mission?
Peterson Outdoors Ministries was founded in 2006 with a mission to provide outdoor recreational therapy for Veterans and those with disabilities with a goal of bringing them Hope, Healing, and Restoration and to stop Veteran Suicide.
What inspired the creation of Peterson Outdoor Ministries?
I come from a Military Heritage. My Grandfather was in WW1, I had an Uncle in WW2, and some cousins in Vietnam as well as some cousins who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. I saw veterans coming back to the military hospitals injured and without Hope. I wanted to give them something to Hope in again.
How do outdoor activities contribute to the healing process for your participants?
The outdoors is a place of solitude and tranquility and gives the veterans a chance to slow down and reflect in God’s creation. When partnered with hunting guides who want to help in the healing process we have seen great success not only short term but long term.
Could you share a success story or a memorable moment from your programs that exemplifies the impact of Peterson Outdoor Ministries?
There are literally hundreds of life changing stories. One is a veteran named Marcus Gwin who came all the way from Florida not only to hunt but to find out how to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. He did just that and is the 1st Veteran to be baptized at the Lodge of Hope Lake. Others have came as participants and returned as volunteers or went back home to their home state to start a similar organization where they could further the mission.
How do faith and community play a role in your programs?
Combat Veterans especially have faced major trauma and most who go to war do not return the same. Faith helps them heal from the trauma, it gives them purpose and Hope and a reason to live. Many veterans self medicate as a coping mechanism. Faith is an alternative and brings peace…something most veterans are looking for.
What types of hunts and programs do you offer?
Deer, Turkey, Waterfowl, Bear, and Predator hunts. Fishing events, boating, kayaking, horseback riding, shooting sports, archery, and nature hikes.
Other Programs include Veterans Men’s Encounter, 1st Responder Mens Encounter, Retreats for 1st Responders. California Cops Retreat, Female Veteran Retreats, Ministry to Military Spouses, Gold Star and Blue Star family retreats. Fishing trips for those with disabilities, Adaptive Day at the Lake for those who are amputees, Veterans at the Ball Park where we take vets and their families to MLB games and much more.
How can you nominate a candidate?
A person can go online at www.petersonoutdoors.org and contact us. We will then send them a more detailed registration form allowing us to plug them in to a future activity or event
What are your future goals and aspirations for Peterson Outdoor Ministries?
To continue to find more ways to reach more veterans and 1st responders with the message of Hope. To expand our outreach into all 50 states through our QRF Suicide prevention teams and develop the Lodge of Hope Campus to house more veterans so we can expand our outreach and activities there.
What is the best part of your job?
Seeing Lives Changed for the better. Seeing Hope in a veterans face. Seeing their families and marriages restored and watching them realize that God still has a plan and purpose for their lives
Peterson just added a Kayak launcher and new Boat deck, How will this enhance your future projects and hunts?
The EZ Dock Boat Dock and Kayak Launch are a game changer allowing those with mobility issues the freedom to enjoy the water once again.
Tell us about the founder and how did you get involved with Veterans?
As the founder I have always had a heart for Veterans, 1st Responders and those with disabilities. I come from a military family. I have 2 degrees in criminal Justice and worked a short while in law enforcement. I have family members with disabilities and God called me to make a difference! I answered His call.
Anything you want people to know about Peterson Outdoor Ministries?
What we offer is life changing and different than most programs. We invite anyone who is a veteran, 1st responder or has a disability to come and let us minister to you. Check us out at www.petersonoutdoors.org or come visit us at the Lodge of Hope located in Bellamy Missouri