2016 Grange Veterans Recognition

I had the privilege of attending the Grange’s Veterans Recognition on October 29, 2016, at the Independent Order of Odd Fellows Lodge in Atlantic.

Charlie Schmitz of WCJ Ranch gave the keynote address. Schmitz is a combat wounded veteran who served three years as a Navy SEAL in Vietnam. He was a river patrol boat commander in the Mekong Delta.

WCJ Ranch has been operating since 1993 and takes combat disabled veterans, children, and youth hunting and fishing in the Cambridge Springs area. They specialize in working with people who have sustained spinal cord injuries. Their objective and mission is to clear obstacles so that veterans can enjoy hunting and fishing.

This year a total of 125 veterans took three fishing trips with WCJ Ranch. Schmitz said hunting and fishing helps vets get away from everything.

Schmitz shared two touching stories about recent hunting trips.

The first story is about David Boyd. He is legally blind and can’t see beyond 20 yards. He served in Vietnam and retired from the Navy after 30 years of service to his country. A friend accompanies him on hunts and tells him when a deer is near enough to shoot. When David went hunting a couple weeks ago, a deer came within 20 feet of him and he got the shot.

The second hunting story featured a remarkable man named Daniel Christiana. He is a paraplegic with a strong desire to be successful. Daniel’s uncle is a retired Sergeant Major in the Marines who served three tours of duty in Iraq.

WCJ Ranch team members found Daniel a special device that allows him to shoot a gun. A blower is hooked to the firing mechanism, and the weapon can be discharged by blowing into the tube. The device cost around $2,000. On October 22, Daniel got a deer. Schmitz said seeing Daniel and his uncle with the deer was priceless.

Schmitz concluded by saying WCJ ranch has been blessed with help from the community. If you are interested in learning more about WCJ ranch, you can find it on Facebook or contact Schmitz at 305 Jefferson Street, Meadville, PA 16335. You may also call him at (814) 724-1930 and leave a message.

After Schmitz finished his speech, veterans John Amato, who served in Afghanistan in 2010, and Iraq in 2008 and 2009, Bob Shelatz, who served at the Bay of Pigs, and Earl Corp, who served during the Cold War, received certificates from Hayfield and Atlantic Granges.

Shelatz thanked the Grange and remarked about “What a privilege it is to serve my country.” Amato said organizations like the Grange are what make America great.

The Grange is the oldest fraternal organization in the United States. It will celebrate its 150th anniversary in D.C. 2017. Grange meetings always begin by opening a Bible, offering a prayer, and saluting the American flag.

Have a wonderful week. Blessings!