Tallahassee, FL - Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Jim Karels, Director of the Florida Forest Service, launched Operation Outdoor Freedom, a program of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Florida Forest Service to invite wounded service members and veterans to enjoy recreational activities at Florida State Forests. The program formalizes a Department tradition of hosting wounded service members and veterans at Florida State Forests through a partnership with the Wounded Warrior Project.
“As we recognize the selfless service of American veterans this Veterans’ Day, we are reminded of the men and women who put their lives on the line for a cause greater than themselves,” said Commissioner Putnam. “Operation Outdoor Freedom is a salute to their service.”
As part of Operation Outdoor Freedom, five areas within Florida’s State Forests have been designated as special hunt areas and are fully equipped to accommodate any veteran, despite his or her injuries. More than nine events have been planned for the Fall and Spring hunting seasons, which will host more than 50 wounded service members and veterans throughout Florida. All funding for the hunts is generated through private donations and support. Veterans participate in the hunts at no charge.
“The outpouring of community support for these hunts has been humbling,” said Karels. “Despite the challenging economic climate, Florida’s citizens and businesses have supported our mission to provide a unique, quality hunt experience for these heroes.”
During the last session, Commissioner Putnam, in partnership with the Legislature, designated areas of the Florida State Forests in honor of and for use by active service members and veterans of the U.S. military who were injured in the line of duty. The legislative measure was sponsored by Senator Alan Hays and Representative Greg Steube.
The Florida Forest Service manages over one million acres of public forestland and protects more than 26 million acres of natural resources, homes and businesses from wildfire to ensure forest resources for future generations.
For more information about the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit www.FreshFromFlorida.com or follow Commissioner Putnam on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.