A Kansas veteran is using his love of hunting to reach other vets who may be struggling with life back home.
Scott Anderson calls it “spiritual warfare” that begins in the fields outside Wakeeney.
At sunrise, Anderson takes a group of guys out in search of quail and pheasants in Trego County.
Some of them are just learning to hunt, and many of them have never met. What they share is their service.
“I spent six years active duty from 2010-2016,” said Army veteran, Joshua Chambers of Milford, Kansas. “Now I’m currently in the Kansas National Guard.”
The hunters come from all military branches for a weekend of outdoor therapy, organized by Anderson, an Air Force veteran, and his nonprofit, “Patriots of Praise.”
“I’m just a guy who has a passion for God and a passion for soldiers,” said Anderson.
He knows firsthand how hard it can be to transition back into civilian life.
“When we get out, we struggle to figure out where we fit in, a lot of times.”
It can also be tough to ask for help so Anderson uses hunting to break the ice.
“They can come out here, and know there’s people who have their back and will help them and walk with them through their struggle,” said Anderson.
Whether it’s the quiet of nature or the thrill of the hunt, walls start coming down, but the real conversation often comes when they break for lunch. Scott tells some personal war stories, including a one-night stand he had long ago.
“I ended up a notch on this young gal’s belt, and I changed my marriage and my life and everything in an instant, y’know,” recounted Anderson.
He shares his failures so others know they won’t be judged.
“I do that to build a bridge with these guys so if they’re struggling or have needs. Y’know. sometimes we talk all night. Sometimes, we don’t talk at all.”
Patriots of Praise never charges for a weekend of hunting. They rely on donations to cover the cost of food, gas and ammunition.
Whether the hunters actually bag a bird, like Joshua did, or go home empty-handed, they leave with something better.
“Having support,” said Chambers. “I’ve met some of the other guys that came out this weekend, and I kind of feel like we’ve got new friendships going.”
And they’re always invited back, if they bring another veteran with them. Anderson makes sure they know he’s ready to listen.
“And y’know, some guys I never hear from again,” he said with a nod. “A lot of them I do.”