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Wounded Warriors go from being hunted to hunting together

By: Gabriel Roxas Email
By: Gabriel Roxas Email

They are Kentuckians who served our country in two of the most dangerous places in the world: Iraq and Afghanistan.

Some never came home alive. Others returned home wounded. For them, the journey is challenging.

In Madison County, the "wounded warriors" hunt together as a way to share a common experience and their stories of survival. Few people can understand what these men have endured. Over the course of three days, the Wounded Warrior Hunt at the Blue Grass Army Depot is a rare opportunity.

Many come for the hunt, but these aren't just any hunters. On the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, they've known what it's like to be the hunted.

"There are things that i don't like talking about," said Steve Ellsberry.

You can't always see their wounds.

"To talk about the actual events that went on, it's a little much because there's a lot that went into it," says Michael Stephens.

They don't face the public scorn of the Vietnam generation.

"It's not that I haven't been welcomed home," says Ellsberry. But many of those soldiers still have a difficult road ahead. "How do I live on with the nightmares and the anxiety, and the PTSD, and the barely able to walk for what I've done for my job," says Ellsberry who was injured by shrapnel in 2006 while in Iraq.

"It's a lot easier to talk to people that have gone through the same struggles you have, but I believe that's with anything," says Stephens who was injured during an ambush by the Taliban.

"A couple trucks were disabled," says Stephens. "We took a couple of casualties. My truck was then hit and disabled. I got out of the truck to help the wounded and then myself got wounded, and my gunner got wounded, and pretty much everyone in my truck was wounded or a severe casualty."

On the hunt, a brotherhood forms. "It's really fun to go out and hunt and be around people that appreciate the stuff we do," says James Dennis. "I don't know, it kind of feels like being at home. It makes you feel a little bit more at home."

In its military casualty report, the Department of Defense lists more than 15,000 wounded in action in Afghanistan and more than 30,000 in Iraq.

"The American people need to know that the wounded soldiers go through hell," says Ellsberry.


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