Honored American Veterans Afield (HAVA) and United Sportsman’s Youth Foundation (USYF) jointly announce the successful expansion of their Veteran/Youth field day concept intended to mix current conflict Disabled Veterans with teenagers to educate each on the other’s attitudes about defending freedom in the contemporary era.
Titled the 3rd Annual HAVA/USYF Field Day, the event expanded to 30 Vets and 30 kids in two-man teams who competed together and learned from each other about their generation’s attitudes about war and military service. These teenagers were surprised to experience the depth of patriotism that the Vets exhibited, and the Vets were impressed with the teen’s curiosity about military life. On a day when shooting, bird hunting and great food were on the agenda, the prize went to each of the attendees as their perspective on 21st century national service was expanded dramatically.
“We’re expanding our mission a bit with this series of Vet/Youth outings and are trying to insert a broader view of today’s realities into the experience of both groups,” said HAVA Chairman Tom Taylor. “Even though the age difference is usually less than 10 years, each group’s view of the other seems to change drastically when placed in the same environment. The kids look up to these combat Veterans as larger than life heroes but are surprised when they are just young people trying to rebuild their lives as civilians – with many of the same ambitions as the teens have. The combat stories are fascinating, but the Veterans are just normal people with issues and dreams of a better life – with a real chance to recapture their enthusiasm for the future through the eyes of these teenagers. This connection builds people’s perspective, and we will be pleased to expand it to other locales as opportunities emerge”
“Serving young people’s needs is USYF’s mission and it is exciting to help them expand their horizons through interaction with real American heroes who broaden the teens’ experience simply through their presence,” said USYF Director Brendan Walsh. “We use hunting and shooting as vehicles to focus the kid’s interest, but in adding a veteran partner, we embroil them in far more than bird hunting. There are real-life lessons here for both parties on each team, and we are fascinated to follow the progress of both teens and veterans. This series has quite a following here in Illinois after its third year of operation, and we will be expanding incrementally in size over the next few years – being careful not to disrupt the life lessons that are there for both groups.”