By By April Montcrief, Director, Soldier and Family Assistance CenterNovember 20, 2008
WEST POINT, N.Y. -- West Point Garrison Commander Col. Dan Bruno accepted the donation of a Huntmaster hydraulic, battery-powered lift from the Paralyzed Veterans of America during a ceremony held at Round Pond Nov. 14.. The hunting stand will enable wounded Soldiers and disabled veterans to enjoy the sport of hunting.
In his remarks, Bruno said, "This Huntmaster will improve the quality of life for many disabled veterans over many years to come. Considering that November is Warrior Care Month, this is an especially timely event for our installation. This donation symbolizes what the Army Community Covenant is all about. I am proud to accept this on behalf of this installation."
Donations to PVA's Outdoor Recreation Heritage Fund from U.S. Cavalry, Inc., American Growler, Inc. and American Defense Systems, Inc. allowed the PVA to donate the equipment, valued at about $15,000, to West Point. The system has the ability to raise 20 feet by the push of a button and is trailer-mounted, so it can be moved to different locations when needed. It is nearly silent and particularly well suited to those with mobility challenges.
Its greatest value is that it enables wounded Soldiers and disabled veterans access to a sport they may have enjoyed before their injuries, but because of their current mobility-impairment, they would be unable to do now.
Because of the generosity of the PVA, West Point's Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation directorate is able to offer the Huntmaster to those who need it as a viable hunting solution, and break down one more barrier these disabled veterans and wounded Soldiers face.
Jim Zumbo, outdoor writer, TV host of the Outdoor Channel's "Jim Zumbo Outdoors" and national spokesman for the PVA's Outdoor Recreation Heritage Fund, came from his Wyoming home to participate in the donation ceremony and spent Saturday and Monday deer hunting with 1st Lt. Robert Burke, a wounded warrior assigned to the West Point Warrior Transition Unit, while using the Huntmaster system.
Burke, wounded five times during an engagement in Iraq while serving with the 10th Mountain Division said, "This is a great opportunity for the wounded Soldiers who come to West Point."
Zumbo, a Newburgh, N.Y., native, began his wildlife career at West Point over 40 years ago when he served as the post forester and game warden, responsible for the hunting and fishing programs.
His job enabled him to spend virtually all of his time outdoors on the reservation, including 14,000 acres of prime woodlands, plus many lakes and miles of streams. In 1974, he accepted a position as a wildlife biologist with the Bureau of Land Management in Utah.
"I am extremely honored to return to West Point after all these years and have the privilege of participating in an event that will support wounded Soldiers in a way that was previously not possible. Some of my fondest memories and outdoor experiences occurred right here on the post and ultimately helped guide my path to a long career as an outdoor writer," Zumbo said.
Zumbo has spent several years working with wounded military veterans returning from overseas as well as disabled veterans from previous conflicts.
"I have the utmost respect for these men and women -- Soldiers, sailors, airmen, Coast Guard and Marines," he said. "They unselfishly put themselves in harm's way every day defending our freedoms in the War on Terrorism. God bless them and their Families," he continued.
After the ceremony, the Huntmaster was taken by FMWR's Outdoor Recreation Department to its location for the weekend hunting event, which was also filmed for The Outdoor Channel's show "Jim Zumbo Outdoors."
Questions about the availability and use of the new Huntmaster should be directed to Peter Spinning, West Point's Outdoor Recreation Coordinator, at 938-2503. Anyone interested in supporting wounded Soldiers at West Point can contact the Soldier and Family Assistance Center at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the PVA's Outdoor Recreation Heritage Fund, go to their Web site at www.pvaheritagefund.org