Operation Outdoor Freedom – Florida Peace River Camp for Wounded Veterans

 In Veterans

On January 5, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam opened a second Operation Outdoor Freedom Camp along the Peace River in Southwest Florida. The program is designed to bring Outdoor activities like boating, hiking. hunting, fishing, etc., to Florida’s wounded veterans who have limited access to other venues… and it’s done for them free of charge.

Putnam started the Operation Outdoor Freedom initiative in 2011 once he took office. The purpose of the program is to honor the thousands of veterans throughout Florida who put their own lives in danger in order to protect the country they love so dearly.

The camps where they can stay for the duration of the trips came along later. The first camp was placed in Polk County in 2015. Called Camp Prairie, it sat on the edge of Lake Kissimmee. It gave veterans a place to enjoy the outdoors, a place to “recreate” in an environment of  camaraderie and peace. It was so successful, Commissioner Putnam created another one. All of the camps are managed by the Florida Forest Service.

The Press Release from the event on January 5 stated:

Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam today opened the second camp dedicated to providing outdoor, recreational opportunities at no cost to wounded veterans who participate in Operation Outdoor Freedom.

Peace River Camp, located in Arcadia and managed by the Florida Forest Service, consists of: a bunkhouse with three rooms and 20 beds, a screened outdoor kitchen, a fire pit, a dining area, and a restroom facility. The camp is located in Peace River State Forest, which spans 5,000 acres. The camp will be used by eligible veterans participating in Operation Outdoor Freedom events.

“I want Florida to be the most veteran friendly state in the nation, and Operation Outdoor Freedom is one small way we can show our appreciation for the men and women who have given so much for our country,” stated Commissioner Adam H. Putnam. “This is a permanent commitment from the State of Florida to the men and women who put it all on the line to make our liberties and our freedoms, that we so often take for granted, even possible.”

Since 2011, Operation Outdoor Freedom has hosted 438 outdoor events, and 3,368 veterans have participated in the program.

For more information on Operation Outdoor Freedom, click here.

The dedication plaque at Camp Peace River

Commissioner Putnam with a local veteran

Research suggests that veterans who participate in outdoor activites grow healthier both physically and mentally.  If you are a Florida wounded veteran, and you’d like to participate in this program, here are the requirements:

  • A service-connected disability rating of 30% or greater from the United States Department of Veteran Affairs
  • Or Purple Heart recipient

 

All photos provided

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