Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden listen as Bud Selig speaks at an event in St. Louis. (Photo : Reuters)
With the War on Iraq slowly coming to to a close, welcoming veterans home in a inspiring way is more important than ever. These brave men and women have given their lives for the freedom that many take for granted. Just a week before the Memorial Day weekend, the company Auto Pros in Greeley, Pennsylvania, donated $10 from every oil change to Hunts for Healing, which is a program for wounded veterans.
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The motivation for this effort came as a result of shop owner Richard Hartman's military service in Kosovo. Hartman was grateful to come back intact, but he noticed his mindset and demeanor had changed. A "24/7" mission to keep - or make - peace between ethnic Albanians and Serbo-Croats who had been in conflict since the Crusades, he says, meant ongoing patrols and house and vehicle searches that kept him on constant alert. Years afterward, it left him with residual wariness.
"I just don't relax. I can relate to the guys coming back. The difficult family life. My son was born while I was away. He was 7 months old when I got back." Not that he wants to discuss it. Like many veterans, he would rather not.
The money from a busy day, which resulted in 55 oil changes will help seriously injured veterans to spend a few days in the Hunts for Healing program, which takes wounded veterans camping, hunting and fishing in Laceyville, Pennsylvania where people have contributed adjoining land for the purpose.
Helping out at Auto Pros were Vietnam veteran Joe Morris, who had been in the Marine Corps, and Shirley Kille, publicist for the 3-year-old Hunts for Healing program and wife of a veteran, with her son Sam, 14.
Kille described how her husband, who had multiple injuries from three deployments in Iraq, ultimately became a mentor in the program. In one instance, he accompanied an amputee who had undergone more than 100 surgeries, supporting him by his belt, so he could fish. Each participant has at least two mentors to help with safe maneuvering.
This program is very encouraging for wounded veterans as they transition back into civilian life and is expected to continue.