Shane fought valiantly for his country’s freedom. Now, he’s fighting for his own.
Shane was only a sophomore in high school on September 11th, 2001, but as soon as he saw the twin towers fall, he knew exactly what he would be doing after graduation.
"I’m sitting there with tears coming out of my eyes. I’m just walking back and forth saying, ‘They can’t do this to us. They can’t do this to us. I’m going. I have to go before they do any more.’ My mind was set. Nobody could talk me out of it.”
Shane enlisted in the Army immediately after graduating from high school in 2004. He was deployed to Iraq in 2005.
The end of a dream Shane never could have imagined how quickly his dream of serving his country would come to an end.
It was September of 2006. Shane was stationed in Baghdad, Iraq. He had the day off, but he took a shift for his friend—a mission that ran overnight and into the next morning. His team was on their way to get food when they were hit by an EFP (Explosive Force Projectile).
“The copper melted through the Humvee like a knife through butter. I look over at my gunner—my buddy, Chris—and literally out of the corner of my eye I see him pick his left leg up and sit it next to him. I’m sitting there, freaking out, and I go to open the door, but it’s busted in. Our sergeant, a massive guy, rips the Humvee door off, Captain America style, and yanked me out. I was in shock. I just remember waking up at Walter Reed [Army Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland] and not knowing who I was or where I was.”
Shane lost both of his legs and survived three cardiac arrests that day. Soon after, he would lose the ability to read and write due to the impact of traumatic brain injuries.
He was 21 years old.
The years that followed were dark ones for Shane. He would lock himself in his room, drink, and play video games. At his lowest, he would think, “You’re worth nothing, Shane. You have no legs. You can’t read. You’re just a pile of nothing for society to push away.”
Shane never could have imagined how quickly his dream of serving As Shane and many other veterans whose lives have been changed by Mission Outdoors would tell you, it’s not just about hunting and fishing.
It’s about family.
Jennifer said, “Having that relationship, that camaraderie with people who have been in a war has been really helpful for Shane. I find that when Shane is down, the best thing for him is being near his brothers and sisters in arms.”
Shane agreed. “Mission Outdoors, to me, is a family. They ask how I’m doing. They’ve gone out of their way to do things that other organizations have never done…” He continued, “Just… thank you. Thank you for what everyone is doing for us, for helping us succeed in doing things that we’ve lost, but can still be part of and do.”
We take combat veterans hunting and fishing because we believe that hope grows outdoors—on the water, on a hunt, on the slopes, on a trail—but just as Shane said, it’s more than recreational activities. It’s relationships with brothers and sisters who understand. It’s the restoration of hope.
You can restore hope for a veteran today. And you can do it by giving freedom back to someone who fought for yours.
Our combat veterans made unthinkable sacrifices for the simple freedoms we enjoy every day. Now, it’s their turn to enjoy those freedoms. Through hunting, fishing, and surrounding veterans with people who care, we’re fighting for something too many of our American Heroes haven’t felt in a long time… Hope.