The Warrior Benefit’s core support team consists of Soldiers and Marines wounded after 9/11 and Gold Star parents (parents who have lost a son or daughter in combat). This core group hosts sporting events in Texas in order to build camaraderie between post 9/11 combat wounded Veterans and demonstrate to those still recovering from physical and emotional injuries that there is a good and purposeful life after service to their country. Warrior Benefit is a 501(c)(3) charity, 100% volunteer-based, which is supported in part by Raba Kistner and other sponsors. Warrior Benefit embraces our core value of community by serving Veterans with an ongoing support system as they return home and integrate into the civilian community.
Warrior Benefit chose clay shooting as their primary charity event since Veterans are familiar with and appreciate weapons and spending time outdoors. There have been 11 core members of the group that have helped manage the organization since Warrior Benefit was founded in 2009.
Their first clay shoot took about a dozen meetings and conference calls to put together. Warrior Benefit has advanced to have about 300 shooters at their annual events with only 2-3 calls to pull it together, but with a lot of volunteers working behind the scenes. The majority of the funds are allocated by an Advisory Board of 12 Purple Heart recipients. These individuals allocate the funds to a variety of Veteran Support Organizations (VSOs) based on their personal experiences with the VSOs. As combat wounded Veterans, the Advisory Board understands how Veterans’ charities should work, which helps in the decision making process to allocate donations.
All of the funds raised by Warrior Benefit are allocated by the Advisory Board, used to seed the next shoot, or directly support local Veteran activities. From 2009 to 2020, Warrior Benefit has raised and donated $531,506 to 21 different VSOs. In 2021, Warrior Benefit raised $75,000 from their clay shooting event and while some of that will go to 2022 event planning, most will be given to other high achieving Veteran charities.
“I have been involved from the beginning. It came about because Marines and Aggies (among others) saw a need to help returning Veterans that wasn’t being filled,” said Dude Hall, Regional Environmental Manager. Dude served 26 years in the United States Marine Corps (1986-2013) on active duty and in the Marine Corps Reserves.
“Number one, it’s designed to be a rally point for these guys who are now out of the military, back in the civilian community, trying to figure out "How do I move forward? How do keep my sanity and adjust to this new world?" These guys who are just coming out can sit down with other Veterans, who've been out for five or six years, and they can talk about the struggles, the issues, how they compensated for it, what they did, how they moved forward. So that's number one.”
Number two, it's designed to be an introduction or potential introduction for transitioning and separating servicemen and women to leaders in the community and business. If I’m looking for an environmental professional to fill an opening and I meet this Veteran out at the shoot, who's has a hazardous material MOS, (Military Occupational Specialty) I can make the connection with Raba Kistner and encourage him to interview for a position. So, it's a relationship builder, matchmaking opportunity.
Third, and finally, it's just a good time. A chance for these guys and gals to get out and do things that they enjoy doing.”
Although the clay shoot is an annual event, usually in March, what really happens is that these Veterans will stay connected throughout the year. Warrior Benefit has a series of other events that are sponsored and hosted with some of the sponsorship money. So, there will be two or three duck hunting events and a few fishing trips where guys will go down to the coast and they'll spend a weekend hunting ducks or fishing. The organization has one Veteran who is a fishing captain. So, he'll take his boat out, which has been equipped for people with disabilities so they can safely go out on a boat with a wheelchair and enjoy the time outdoors.
There are usually about six events over the course of the year that serve as rally points for these Veterans to come back together, if they want to, and maintain strong connections with each other. They all voluntarily served when we needed them, we want to be here for them now.