SPECIAL REPORT: Mohawk Outdoors

WOODBURN, Ky. (WBKO) - J.D. Williams is a Montana boy who grew up loving the outdoors and hunting; it's a passion he now shares with his daughter Kaelyn. J.D. thought he might lose that love forever when he was attacked by the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2010:

"It was that moment when it went off and I could see the yellow smoke. I was just praying in my head that it was a nightmare," described J.D.

"Before we even got to the operating room I was dead as a doornail, went through all kinds of CPR, defibrillators to revive me and the last thing they did was a cardiac massage so I ended up pulling through on that, so I'm very lucky to be here right now."

J.D. spent months in the hospital recovering and when he returned home, he heard heartbreaking stories from other veterans:

"Out of all the guys I served with I was the most injured guy out of my entire platoon. All of my guys that came home, they're dealing with suicide, they're dealing with family issues, they're going into debt, they're just lost souls right now."

J.D. and a group of veterans wanted to help and they thought being in the fresh air could help.

"Get those guys outdoors, get them out of their houses, give them something to do, get them outdoors because that's what healed me 100 percent," said J.D.

They came up with the idea of Mohawk Outdoors, an organization that helps veterans get their lives back. One of those veterans participating in his first turkey hunt with his son is Erin Schaefer.

"It keeps us veterans united. I may be a little more mobile than Mr. Williams, but he's been a hero to myself after what he's been through; he's been an inspiration and I'm thankful to Mohawk for this adventure," said Erin.

Mohawk is also teaching future generations to love the outdoors. They have a group of guides who take blue and gold star children on different adventures, like P.J. Henderson whose father was killed in Iraq in 2004. He now hunts with his step-father Stephen, who serves as Vice President of Mohawk Outdoors.

"There's just something about a father/son moment when you get to go outside and teach them things that they'll get to carry on for the rest of their lives and things they'll be able to share with their kids," explained Stephen.

"You know I'd like to think if I'd gotten killed overseas, there'd be somebody, there'd be somebody to take my daughter hunting because that would mean the world to me," said J.D.

Being in the military shaped J.D.'s life, now he's using the skills he learned to shape the lives of others.

"I wouldn't take any of it back for anything because it's something that made me who I am today, it makes me a stronger person and I'd go back tomorrow if they asked me to in a heartbeat. Serving our country was the greatest thing I've done in my entire life," explained J.D.

Mohawk has expanded beyond veterans. It includes J.D.'s family, friends, and people who just want to help. J.D. is hoping to inspire veterans in all 50 states to start a similar program.



 
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