Saluting Their Service

HAVA/ACADEMI Host 2nd Annual Family Day.

Honored American Veterans Afield (HAVA) and ACADEMI hosted their 2nd Annual HAVA/ACADEMI National Family Day in June at the 7,000-acre ACADEMI Training Center in Moyock, N.C.

It was a day of shooting fun, music, entertainment and prizes for 175 disabled veterans and injured active-duty military, along with their families. Each participant completed six shooting stages, including a timed 3-Gun competition, along with many other fun activities.

Many participants took home outdoor equipment and firearms, given away in a high-energy raffle hosted by the reigning Mrs. Virginia International — and active-duty U.S. sailor — Amber Wandtke and her Marine- and Army-disabled veteran husband. Attendees were also treated to a 3-Gun exhibition by a team of pro shooters. Over 40 kids received firearm safety training, enjoyed a day shooting their way through tactical airsoft scenarios led by active-duty Marines and went home with a raffle prize.

“HAVA’s partnership with ACADEMI to produce an annual National Family Day at their world-class facility is the highlight of our early summer schedule and will continue to grow in support of all disabled and injured military who can attend,” said Tom Taylor, HAVA chairman. “The staff at ACADEMI is nearly all former military, and who’s better equipped to understand and serve these wounded warriors who have given so much to defend freedom? Their enthusiasm for the task is exemplary and feedback from these veteran families couldn’t be more positive.”

HAVA continues to explore ways for even the most disabled veterans to take part in shooting.

“Another feature of the event was exposure of our new puff trigger and optics camera capability that, along with the HAVA Action Trackchairs, will allow us to put the most severely disabled warriors in the field or on the line and see the joy in their eyes as the hunt succeeds or the target falls,” Taylor said.

James Hickey, vice president of ACADEMI security and professional services, who is also a combat veteran, said the event had a significant impact on the ACADEMI staff.

“The HAVA series has energized our staff to contribute to the rebuilding of the lives of the disabled and injured from our military, and over 100 of them volunteered to participate in making certain the families and warriors alike at this event understood the statement that was being made — that the HAVA/ACADEMI family salutes their service and stands with them in their time of need as they rebuild their lives,” Hickey said.

“HAVA volunteers have helped us increasingly appreciate the human side of helping these heroes, and we are already planning for expansion next year. We will continue to build this event as the cornerstone of our warrior support program.”

The HAVA National Family Day series in now well established in San Antonio and North Carolina, and HAVA officials report they will add events in Kentucky this fall and Arizona in 2014. Together, the Family Days will serve more than 1,000 families of disabled American military personnel and veterans, in addition to those taking part in hunts and shooting competitions.

“With the unwavering support of our sponsors, HAVA is maturing into a full-service organization, and the shooting sports industry can be proud to support the cause of helping these great Americans regain the full promise of the way of life that they so courageously defended,” Taylor said.

HAVA’s sustaining sponsor companies are Smith & Wesson, Mossberg, NSSF, ACADEMI, Crimson Trace, Diamondback Firearms, FMG Publications, Glock, Hornady, Leupold & Stevens, Proof Research, Ruger, SureFire, Taurus, XS Sights and Yamaha Outdoors, among numerous contributing companies.

To learn more about HAVA, visit For more information on how to become involved, contact Tom Taylor at (781) 789-2538.
By HAVA Staff

A disabled veteran receives shooting tips from Trevor Baucom (left),
of Team S&W, who is also a disabled combat veteran.

There were plenty of shooting opportunities for those attending Family Day.

Family Day provides an opportunity for disabled veterans and their kids to enjoy time together.

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