Bridging the Gap

WBP Staff Writer Helen Phillips

May 8, 2024

In the aftermath of war, combat veterans often carry a heavy burden, not just of physical scars but also emotional ones. Yet, amidst the challenges of reintegrating into civilian life, there exists a profound opportunity for healing: forging connections with civilians. For many veterans, the journey back to civilian life can feel isolating. They may struggle to relate to those who haven’t experienced the rigors of combat, and civilians, in turn, may find it challenging to comprehend the complexities of military service. However, building bridges between these two worlds can lead to profound healing. One of the most significant aspects of this healing journey is the realization that their sacrifices were not in vain. By engaging with civilians, combat veterans can witness firsthand the freedoms they fought to protect.

The people of Polk County Wisconsin provided a beautiful opportunity for this interaction to take place. Hunting guides and landowners offered their time and property for the Warrior Bonfire members to learn how to hunt turkeys. This also allowed them to engage with one another in a very personal and empowering way. The overwhelming generosity of this community was amazing as funds to secure lodging, food, shotgun shells, and special mementos like custom turkey calls and mounts, came from the raffles and auction of homemade pies! We visited the pie raffle held at Edgetown Pub and the pie auction Good Ole Days Auction and we all were blown away that pies could generate more than $3,000!

“I have the most incredible feelings of joy and comfort when I reflect on what just occurred over the weekend, and those great memories will continue to resonate in my mind for as long as I have the capacity to remember. Meeting America’s Patriots that support us, the remaining Purple Hearts that walk this earth, has 100% provided me with what must be the only way to find solace in the question ‘was it worth it’?. The Patriots of Polk County, Wisconsin have shown me that ‘absolutely right it was, is, and will always be worth it, as long as this type of American community heartbeat still sustains it’.” Purple Heart Member P. Chambers

Special thanks to Sally Ruelas and Neva Sherman for raising funds, organizing, and hosting. Also big thanks to all the land owners that provided hunting space, local hunting guides, Big Rock Creek Resort for lodging, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Polk County Sportsmen’s Club, and Good Ole Days Auction.