The mission of the Veteran’s Afield Foundation (VAF) is to assist in the reintegration and the healing process of combat veterans, Gold Star families, and first responders. We accomplish this through non-clinical therapeutic outdoor activities.
Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. You will increase my honor and comfort me once more.
Our vision is to offer at least 35 restorative trips each year to cohorts of four to six veterans with physical disabilities, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other stress-related disorders.
VAF currently offers 10-15 life-changing hunting and fishing expeditions and specialized hunts each year, all across the United States. Thanks to the generous support of our donors and partners, our programs are free of charge for participants. To achieve our vision, we are expanding the scope and reach of our fundraising and partnership efforts.
Studies have found that veterans who participate in outdoor recreation experiences—like those offered by VAF—experience significant improvements in psychological well-being, social functioning, and general outlook on life.*
VAF’s group sizes are intentionally small to help ensure high-quality outcomes and positive experiences for each participant.
We’re doing this because the outcomes of our work are clear and the need is great. We’ve witnessed the profound transformation and healing that occurs during our programs. And we recognize the need and have been called to do even more.
The Veterans Afield Foundation was founded as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 2017. However, the organization’s story begins in 2004, when founder and Registered Maine Guide, Dave Hentosh, welcomed the first cohort of wounded veterans to what ultimately became VAF’s headquarters and operational base, Smoldering Lake Outfitters.
This inaugural group arrived directly from Walter Reed Army Hospital, each participant in varying stages of physical and emotional recovery.
Our field-experienced volunteers and guides quickly realized the healing power these trips could provide.
“It’s a sobering lesson to realize how little it takes to change the trajectory of somebody’s life. Really, the experience is the excuse. It’s about providing a unique outdoor experience in a safe, comfortable atmosphere and God does the rest. It’s that simple.”