A few years ago, Mack Hagewood attended a local sports event and witnessed the audience standing up simply to thank the veterans during a break in the action. That simple act of recognition moved Hagewood, a longtime La Vergne, Tennessee resident and Vietnam era veteran himself. Hagewood decided that he wanted to help other veterans experience that feeling of intense appreciation each and every day . . . and that’s how Veteran Sportsmen was born.
This nonprofit, all-volunteer organization focuses on enhancing the quality of veterans’ lives by taking them fishing, hunting, and on other outdoor adventures to personally thank them for their service. Veteran Sportsmen seeks to give veterans some well-deserved rest and relaxation, help them make new friends, cultivate new hobbies, and (for some) cope with the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The group does this by pairing individuals with at least five years of hunting, fishing, and even golf expertise (“Pros”) with veterans (“Joes”) to take them on an outing.
Initially launched in 2015, Veteran Sportsmen now has a team of six volunteers, including Hagewood. Each of the volunteers has a professional specialty, from social media marketing to photography to counseling, that contributes to the organization’s operations. Veteran Sportsmen is funded through donations, as well as sales of various promotional items (coffee mugs, t-shirts, etc.). There are no fees to join the organization, and 100% of all funds raised go toward supporting the veteran events.
Veteran Sportsmen welcomes any and all veterans of the United States military, whether it be the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard. The group’s activities include taking veterans to NASCAR races, Titans football games, bimonthly fishing trips, and more. Veteran Sportsmen does not, however, encourage or endorse activities that may be deemed normally unsafe, such as mountain climbing, hang gliding, or boxing.
Although the organization is relatively new, Veteran Sportsmen plans to expand as its popularity continues to grow. According to Hagewood, Veteran Sportsmen hopes to establish a presence in additional cities and neighboring states in the near future. Currently, the organization is seeking volunteers to take veterans fishing. For more information or to join up (at no charge), be sure to check out the Veteran Sportsmen Fishing Club Facebook page.