WJTV News Channel 12 - FAITH IN FOCUS: Healing with "Hot Coffee Hunts for Heroes"

The group (this time around comprised of less than a dozen wounded veterans) schedules two dates for hunts each year - one for turkey season and one for deer season.

FAITH IN FOCUS: Healing with "Hot Coffee Hunts for Heroes"

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"Hot Coffee Hunts for Heroes" has invited wounded veterans on two hunting trips a years for the last seven years. "Hot Coffee Hunts for Heroes" has invited wounded veterans on two hunting trips a years for the last seven years.
Damian T. Orslene is still struggling to completely figure out his life after his dramatic injuries but he says Hot Coffee Hunts for Heroes acts as a therapy. Damian T. Orslene is still struggling to completely figure out his life after his dramatic injuries but he says Hot Coffee Hunts for Heroes acts as a therapy.
This winter the group of veterans met for the deer hunt at the usual place - a cabin donated for use by the Davis Family in Hot Coffee, MS. This winter the group of veterans met for the deer hunt at the usual place - a cabin donated for use by the Davis Family in Hot Coffee, MS.
Max Philips who volunteers and helps coordinate Hot Coffee Hunts for Heroes says that veterans have higher than normal suicide rates after returning from overseas. Max Philips who volunteers and helps coordinate Hot Coffee Hunts for Heroes says that veterans have higher than normal suicide rates after returning from overseas.
Veterans have the opportunity to kill deer or turkey - depending on the season at Hot Coffee Hunts for Heroes. Now organizers say fellowship may be a more effective therapy. Veterans have the opportunity to kill deer or turkey - depending on the season at Hot Coffee Hunts for Heroes. Now organizers say fellowship may be a more effective therapy.
If you have hunters in your family you already know the woods can be described calming or meditative.

But for a group of veterans overcoming their injuries received in service - the better therapy might be what happens after coming back from their blinds.

"We minister not only to their physical needs but we also try to minister to their spiritual needs," Max Philip, coordinator/volunteer for "Hot Coffee Hunts for Heroes, said.

Click here to watch last week's FAITH IN FOCUS: Feast of our Lady Guadalupe Inspires Jackson Catholics

The group (this time around comprised of less than a dozen wounded veterans) schedules two dates for hunts each year - one for turkey season and one for deer season, Philip said.

On the final Sunday of the deer event Philip called the event yet another success.

Pastor Herbert Nettleton of Hot Coffee's Calhoun Baptist Church delivered a final message after a weekend for healing that brought together the group of veterans.

That group included Damian Orslene who says he spent three years in the hospital after an April 2007 attack in Iraq.

"I'm a Chief Master Sergeant E9 in the United States Air Force - 28 years," Orslene said.

"And I was on my third deployment when the insurgents drove a cement truck full of farm fertilizer and diesel fuel into the wire and blew us up," Orslene said.

"I ended up having to have a total right hip replacement, two major shoulder surgeries, three compressed discs, blown vertebrae. I have two blind spots; one in each eye. I lost 70% of my hearing and I have a traumatic brain injury," Orslene said.

Losing his short-term memory and multi-tasking abilities it cut short his career, he said.

That was seven years ago - around the same time "Hot Coffee Hunts for Heroes" started.

Originally a wounded warriors program the goal was to give guys a shot at bagging a turkey or buck in open season. A local family, the Davis's, donated space in their cabin and coordinators acted as guides.

But it was between the time spent in the woods that communications opened, Philip said.

"We very quickly learned that the fellowship and the healing and the comradery that develops at these events far more overpowers the hunting aspect," Philip said.

"We've been told that we've saved lives here at this event. Not only here but the fact that they took what they learned here and ministered to some of their brethren and helped save their lives. There's a high rate of suicide among veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq," Philip said.

Orslene concurs.

"I've lost five friends now to suicide since I've been home," Orslene said.

"For me, so much pain and sorrow and just couldn't dig my way out. I was just so depressed from getting medically retired from being a Chief," Orslene said.

"One day I found myself sitting in the bed ready to kill myself. I had the gun right there. And, you know, God intervened," Orslene said.

"These people. They thank us for what we're doing but they don't understand is we thank them. Cause I have two dates that I know on my calendar that I can look forward to no matter how bad things get, no matter how much pain I'm in, no matter how much suffering I do," Orslene said.

"If I can just get there I'm going to be okay," Orslene said.

"Because when I come down that driveway and I come under that metal sign that says 'Little Heaven In the Woods', I know the people are going to wrap their arms around me, and they're going to love me," Orslene said.

"And no matter what was going wrong in my life they're going to make it better," Orslene said.

Although he originally worked out of Biloxi, Orslene said he now lives in Pensacola, Florida where he is training to qualify as a paralympic discus thrower.

And if you'd like to share your faith community with the viewers of NEWS CHANNEL 12 email Jacob Kittilstad at jkittilstad@wjtv.com or call at 601-664-8839.


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