Disabled veterans see their struggles 'disappear' thanks to veteran-run non-profit
NEOSHO, Wis. (CBS 58) -- An 81-year-old Vietnam veteran, Pat Horvath also considers himself to be a sort of magician. His magic trick? Helping disabled veterans see their struggles 'disappear.'
"They get up in the morning, they got to worry about their VA appointments, their medication, their therapist. That's what they think of," Horvath said. "We're going to take these same veterans, we're going to take them out in the field and all of a sudden, those disabled veterans are gone. They're gone. They don't worry about the VA, they don't worry about their medication, they don't worry about their track chairs. That's the magic in this."
As reported previously on CBS 58, Horvath is the founder of Veterans Afield UA, a non-profit aimed at helping disabled veterans leave their homes and get outdoors. Each year, Horvath, with the help of donations and grants, puts on roughly 30 events for upwards of 40 veterans. Those events range from trap shoots to turkey and pheasant hunts.
"We're small, but we, we're all over the board," explained Horvath, who runs the organization with his wife, Diana. "Every penny we've gotten in thirteen years has gone right back to the vets."
Horvath says he hopes to continue to offer events to veterans as long as his health, and the funds allow.
Vets like Dennis Criel and Derrick Trentin appreciate that commitment.
"I'm so grateful to be able to come out and do these hunts," Trentin said. "Veterans Afield has been so great for every vet I've seen involved. Hopefully, we can keep this going strong."
"Pat and D, they put so much into it. They run the organization and it seems like he's 24/7," said Criel. "We're all getting a little older, and it's got to be hard on Pat, but he just battles through it every day."
As he continues his mission, Horvath is hopeful others will take notice, whether it be disabled veterans signing up to be a part of the program, or members of the community supporting it through donations.
"If you're going to spend money, if I'm going to spend money, what better way to spend it on people that protected your country? You can spend money on a lot of foolish things; this is real," Horvath said. "I say I have about 40 to 45 shooters. Some of them are just on paper, They won't come out, but every once in a while, you keep asking them, you keep on them, and the guy will go 'Oh, alright, I'll try it.' What I want to here after that is 'When can I come back?' When I hear that, we're in and they're there."
If not able to help financially, Horvath says people are able to be a positive influence on veteran's lives by showing gratitude.
"It takes you one minute to walk up to a veteran and say 'Thanks,'" Horvath said.
"No matter what kind of a day that veteran's having, I will guarantee you, you shake his or her hand, you just made that veteran's day better. Guaranteed. I know."
Those interested in taking part in a Veterans Afield U.A. program or wanting to donate to the program can do so by visiting the Veterans Afield website HERE.