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October 31, 2012

Wounded Warriors go hunting

Steve Heath and Brandon Long spent the weekend hunting with local guides

— Steve Heath called Mark Liebner when he heard his friend Brandon Long was retiring from the Marines. 

Liebner, owner of Camp Kay Outfitters in Monticello, wanted to do what he could to host his first Wounded Warrior hunt. 

Heath, a retired staff sergeant who was in the Army for 12 years and eight months, injured his back. He had a traumatic brain injury and post traumatic stress disorder. He enlisted at 17 and served two tours in Iraq. Now 30, Heath said hunting is his therapy. 

“Hunting has made my life better,” Heath said. “I don’t know what I would do without it.” 

Wounded Warrior Project serves military service members who incurred service-connected wounds, injuries, or illnesses on or after September 11, 2001 and their families.

Long, a retired Marine infantry rifleman, was injured in Afghanistan in 2010 when he stepped on an improvised explosive device. Long, now 22, lost both of his legs above his knees and suffered a traumatic brain injury. Long, like Heath, said hunting has helped him. 

“If it wasn’t for hunting, I would be a wreck,” Long said. “It has made my recovery a lot easier.” 

Liebner, who donated the hunts to Heath and Long, said it was made possible through the generosity of Logansport businessman Milt Cole, who allowed them to hunt on his land. 

“My goal is to spread awareness of the Wounded Warrior program and to promote community involvement and participation,” Liebner said. “I want troops to know we care about their services.” 

Liebner said he wanted to have a wounded warrior hunt because he has family members in the military and understands the importance of recognizing them. He said no one really understands what they go through. 

Both Heath and Long agreed with him and said a lot of their friends died. Heath said 38 men were killed in action and 120 were wounded from his division, and Long said 27 were killed in action and over 350 were wounded from his.

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