*Washington State BHA volunteer and National Board member for BHA AFI Justin Spruiell made the below public comment at the WDFW Meeting in response to One commissioner telling hunters and anglers to be nervous when discussing hunting opportunities, while multiple commissioners have deep ties to anti-hunting organizations. To submit your own comments follow the link at the end of the post*
Hello commissioners and Staff,
Thank you for the opportunity to speak today. I am Justin Spruiell, a resident of Thurston County, father, husband, hunter, angler, and 8-year Veteran of the US Army.
Following my time in the US Army, after numerous years overseas, I chose to remain in the Evergreen State. Growing up in Texas, I was unaware of public lands, but after having my eyes opened to the vast sporting opportunities available in this state, I knew I could never leave.
Hunting and fishing gave me the opportunity to step away from my own mind, relax and heal. Now I volunteer with Backcountry Hunters and Anglers Armed Forces Initiative, my mission is to share our public lands and waters with other Veterans. I teach them how they can use our opportunities in Washington as an escape after 20 years at war, connect with others who have been through the same thing, and get involved with conservation. As mentioned in the Social Science briefing yesterday Veterans Outdoor Adjunct Therapy has been shown to be effective in combating stressors and helping our veterans adjust to life again. We teach veterans how to get outside, explore the outdoors, and give back with a new mission bigger than themselves.
I support maximizing opportunities for the veterans I serve, as long as it is backed by science-based management. These seasons give our veterans a healthy outlet and something to look forward to year to year and season to season. The countless lives that have been saved due to outdoor pursuits should mean something to this commission, the emails received and mountaintop conversations letting me know that our camps and hunts pulled someone from a dark place keep me going.
Some of our veterans are fighting a game of inches and I for one want to give them every advantage I can, when reducing or closing seasons for reasons not backed by science, you take away one more tool that my team or a veteran has when using the outdoors for adjunct therapy. A government agency telling my members they should be nervous or scared when they are now back home and trying to readjust while finding a healthy activity to enjoy and a new mission is unacceptable. I ask that you think about our Active-Duty service members being moved here in the name of national security and our Veterans who have chosen to remain in this state when you make your decisions and when you choose your words.
To make a comment of your own please follow the link below: