Wounded veterans across Florida will boat, fish, hunt, and more at no charge during Memorial Day in the fourth annual Operation Outdoor Freedom, a program sponsored by Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ state Forest Service.
Outdoor Freedom honors wounded veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces by providing no-cost recreation and rehabilitation opportunities in state forests and private lands, including guided hunting events and fishing trips. Last year, more than 650 wounded veterans participated in almost 65 activities, including alligator, deer and hog hunts; quail and turkey hunts; saltwater and freshwater fishing; and kayaking and canoeing.
“On this Memorial Day, and every day, we appreciate the bravery of our men and women who have served our country,” Putnam said in a statement. “Although we can never repay their sacrifice, this program provides recreational opportunities for our wounded veterans in Florida’s great outdoors.”
A new activity introduced this year allowed veterans and their families to participate in an alligator egg collection and then help the eggs hatch at a local hatchery.
Since establishing Operation Outdoor Freedom in 2011, the Florida Forest Service has hosted more than 1,650 veterans in more than a dozen state forests, private ranches, and timberlands, as well as the state’s coast.
Florida State Forest areas dedicated to this effort are fully equipped to accommodate individual needs of wounded veterans. All funding for the program is generated through private donations. Veterans can participate at no charge.
For more information, visit OperationOutdoorFreedom.com.