Area wounded warriors now have wheelchair-accessible hunting blinds for their use on the installation this hunting season. The summer-long project was a combined effort with various U.S. Army Garrison, Fort Leonard Wood organizations.

"The garrison commander was asked by a couple of wounded warriors of the possibility of having wheelchair-accessible hunting blinds set up in a few of the hunting areas on Fort Leonard Wood," said William Force, Directorate of Emergency Services supervisory conservation law enforcement officer.

A steering committee comprised of the DES, along with the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security and the Directorate of Public Works, worked together to see the request through, Force said.

The committee then reached out to Range Operations and the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence Noncommissioned Officer Academy's Engineer Advanced Leaders Course for help in working out the details and accomplishing the mission.

"Conservation Law Enforcement Officer Charles Goff reconnoitered several hunting areas for the best locations in providing prime opportunity for harvesting deer," Force said. "And Terry Moore and the Range Operations team used heavy equipment to clear the trails and created rock pads for the hunting blinds to rest on."

Once the locations were chosen and ready, the ALC class got to work constructing the buildings, giving students from various engineer backgrounds experience in carpentry.

Staff Sgt. Dandy Prak, NCOA small group leader, explained the importance of this project.

"We're helping out the veteran community, but it's more than just that," Prak said. "For us, when we become E-6 (staff sergeant) we become a 12H, construction supervisor, so it's important for plumbers and electricians to experience the carpentry part."

The hunting blinds are now ready for use and can be located at Hunting Areas 3, 14, 26A and 32. For more information on these blinds, contact Force at 573.596.0131, ext. 65002.

"These permanent hunting blinds will provide many years of deer-hunting opportunities to the Fort Leonard Wood community," Force said.