Sacrifices For Freedom

HAVA, Youth Foundation Bring Vets, Kids Together.

Honored American Veterans Afield (HAVA) and United Sportsman’s Youth Foundation (USYF) successfully completed a pilot project to launch a new series of outdoor activities for the benefit of veterans, disabled veterans and injured active duty military, and kids from all walks of life.

The First Annual HAVA/USYF Field Day held last fall near Freeport, Ill., included a day of trap, birds, dogs and good camaraderie for 15 veterans and 15 youngsters.

They spent a day together one-on-one hunting and talking about the sacrifices required for freedom. Most of these kids knew little of military service and these veterans put a human face on what defending freedom really means. More than 20 volunteers helped with bird cleaning, cooking and setup; and the kids and veterans alike learned life lessons that the outdoors can teach.

“The joining of these young people and veterans in an outdoor setting has been a dream for HAVA, and partnering with USYF in sponsoring this event was the perfect way to make it a reality,” said Tom Taylor, HAVA chairman. “This pilot project showed the interface is positive for both groups, and we intend to go forward with the concept for 2013 and beyond.”

“HAVA came to us sometime back with the idea of putting veterans and kids together in an outdoor event, and it all worked much better than even we had anticipated,” said Brendan Walsh, USYF director. “The veterans had life lessons to share, and the kids’ faces told the whole story of how one generation can help the next. Each veteran was very appreciative that these youngsters honored their service in defense of freedom.”
For more information on USYF, visit

James Debney (left), S&W president and CEO, and Jan Mladek (center), S&W director of marketing, present a $50,000 check to Tom Taylor, HAVA chairman.

Smith & Wesson Donates $50,000 To HAVA

Smith & Wesson Corp. presented HAVA with a donation of $50,000 at this year’s SHOT Show. The donation will support programs designed to assist disabled veterans and wounded active duty military personnel.

James Debney, S&W president and CEO, and Jan Mladek, S&W director of marketing and HAVA board member, presented the donation to Tom Taylor, HAVA chairman.

“Since its inception in 2008, we have been proud to support the foundation and growth of HAVA,” Debney said. “Through HAVA’s dedicated services, thousands of returning disabled veterans have been able to reconnect with the benefits of the shooting sports as they undergo the healing process. These remarkable men and women have made incredible sacrifices to protect our freedoms, and it is our privilege and honor to support them through this effort.”

With continued support from its co-sponsors, which include major firearm and outdoor equipment manufacturers, HAVA has been able to heighten awareness of issues facing disabled veterans upon returning home. Donations from industry companies are crucial for HAVA, which hosts numerous outdoor activities, including hunts and shooting events, each year.

In 2012, HAVA served over 500 disabled veterans, wounded active duty military personnel and family members. The year’s events included the Fifth Annual HAVA National Family Day, held in partnership with the San Antonio Police Department, which provided 300 disabled veterans and their families a day of competitive shooting, airsoft events, food and raffle prizes. The First Annual HAVA Family Day East at the Academi Training Facility in Moyock, N.C., treated another 146 participants to a fun-filled event. Other HAVA events included a veteran elk hunt and a Maine upland hunt.

During 2013, HAVA will celebrate its five-year anniversary, and the organization has begun plans for events that should exceed 1,000 participants.

“On behalf of HAVA, I would like to thank Smith & Wesson for its ongoing support of America’s veterans and the valuable services made possible by HAVA. As a founding member, Smith & Wesson has taken a leading role in the development of new programs, as well as serving on the board of directors. Their overwhelming support helps make our significant growth possible,” said Tom Taylor.

For more information on supporting HAVA, visit
Contact Tom Taylor at (781) 789-2538.

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SI March 2013

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