Alberta hunters help first responders dealing with PTSD

Click to play video: 'Local hunting group helps first responders dealing with PTSD' Local hunting group helps first responders dealing with PTSD
WATCH: The Veteran Hunters is a non-profit group that takes first responders on guided hunts in an effort to help them deal with post-traumatic stress disorder. Jenna Freeman reports. – Jun 1, 2021

The Veteran Hunters, a non-profit organization based near Cochrane helping first responders cope with PTSD through hunting, was the inception of Todd Hisey, who spent 22 years in the military with split service.

Read more: Many military veterans don’t feel adequately recognized or supported: experts

Hisey’s career was cut short after he suffered mental health issues that rendered him incapable of continuing his service and passion.

“Your career is cut short because of a mental illness,” explained Hisey. “It doesn’t mean we’re less of a human being but we need something to help rediscover who we now are.”

Hisey spent six years receiving therapy through the government and discovered after taking up archery that he found it therapeutic.

“The archery component reinforced the mindfulness, staying in the moment,” Hisey said.

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The combination of archery and bowhunting helped him use some of his military skills and helped with his post-traumatic stress disorder.

“I found all of those things were therapeutic for me and helped me recover… I thought there’s a chance it might help others.”

Read more: Alberta veteran recalls his experience 30 years after the Gulf War

Jeff McClounie has guided hunters for years, and when he met Hisey, he said he had to help.

Last year, the group organized dozens of hunts across the country, but at a cost of $1,000 per hunter, the organization is hoping it can drum up support this year.

“It’s been so fun to be able to deal with these guys and meet these men and women who fought for our freedom,” McClounie said. “It’s a huge honour to be standing among one of them.”

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Read more: Unmarked graves for veterans in southern Alberta to receive military headstones

The Veteran Hunters supports first responders across the country and hopes that in the future, it may be able to partner with similar operations in the United States.

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