Operation Roaring River to take flight on Monday
Hettinger: ‘This is just the beginning’
Based in Webb City, Charlie 22 Outdoors is a non-profit organization dedicated to veterans and the outdoors, and the group is coming to Barry County next week to camp out at Roaring River State Park.
Scott Hettinger founded Charlie 22 Outdoors as a result of a passion for serving those who have already served.
“The Mission of Charlie 22 Outdoors is to provide outdoor activities to our nation’s veterans with the goal of showing them there is hope, love and a personal meaning in God’s grace,” he said. “You may or may not be aware of this, but every day in our country, 22 veterans commit suicide. This has to stop.”
Hettinger said Charlie 22 Outdoors provides the events free of charge to those who served and their families. Charlie 22 Outdoors covers all expenses including travel, lodging, food, tags, guides, taxidermy, and meat processing.
“I did something like this for another group for several years,” he said. “My wife was very involved in that group as well. We left that group in 2016.”
Hettinger said he and his wife were heartbroken about leaving the group, so over the next few months, they tried to regroup and figure out where God was leading them.
“Then, in March of 2017, we were asked to work with Catch a Dream Foundation,” he said. “They asked us to be a host.”
Hettinger said that was approved in June of 2017.
“But, during that time I realized something was off,” he said. “I am quadriplegic, and for me when I am in pain or something is wrong, I sweat.”
Hettinger said he and his wife tried to treat him for infection, but it wasn’t successful.
“When we got approved to be a host for the foundation, my doctor sent me to a neurosurgeon and ordered a CAT scan,” he said. “The CAT scan revealed an infection was killing me, and we didn’t know it.”
Hettinger said he was put on antibiotics, and after the infection went down, they were going to take my kidney.
“After eight weeks, we went to Tulsa for the surgery,” he said. “They told my wife to prepare for the worst because there were complications with calcification.”
Hettinger said thankfully, he made it through and the doctors sent him home to heal.
“My wife and I went to church on October 7, 2017, and our preacher as talking about Joshua 1:9,” he said. “it says, ‘Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.’”
Hettinger said at that moment he realized what he needed to do.
“I have always wanted to help veterans,” he said. “I am an Army Brat and my father was military. I had four or five guys in mind that I wanted to work with, so after church I spoke with some of them.”
Hettinger said by that Monday, he had six men who together formed Charlie 22 Outdoors.
“Our goal in October 2017, was to be prepared for a Turkey hunt in the spring 2018,” he said. “But, we were asked to join a hunt in January 2018.
“We decided if it would all come together, we would do it.”
Hettinger said at that point they realized they needed money and veterans.
“In November 2017, we were chosen as a beneficiary for their contributions for the holidays” he said. “They gave us $7,000 in December. The employees raised donations and the company doubled it.”
Hettinger said at that point, the only thing left was to get the veterans.
“We set the goal of at least four veterans, and the day before the application cut off, 15 veterans applied for the hunting trip,” he said. “God had his hand in all of this, because the next thing we had to get was insurance. The insurance was bought for us with no cost to us, it was $2 million worth of coverage.”
Hettinger said he and his daughter were on a hunt on their property and a guy was there to film the hunt for a TV show in Joplin.
“The guy realizes he used to live on that property about 20 years before,” he said. “He ended up developing a website for us for free.”
Hettinger said everything just fell into place.
“The January hunt went perfectly, and about a week later applications just came flooding in,” he said. “Now, here we are. We have tripled out events for this year. We served 19 veterans last year and will serve 100 this year.”
Hettinger said he constantly gets phone calls from people about people wanting to help.
“I had a guy that hunted in November who told me he almost committed suicide,” he said. “Then, he saw that November hunt, and it saved his life.”
Hettinger said the veteran understands he has problems to face, but now his life is changed for the better.
“The purpose is to show these people that there is a reason they are here,” he said. “Last year in August, we had an auction, and one of the guys that helped purchase guns for the auction was there.
“We planned a video at that auction that showed veteran that had committed suicide and his story. The guy is an avid fisherman and knows Joel Topham at Roaring River.”
Hettinger said the guy told Topham about what the organization is about and what they do.
“Turns out that Joel is a veteran also, so they began putting together thought of doing an event there at Roaring River,” he said. “Within a few days of having a meeting and making a flyer, all 40 slots were filled up an we had a waiting list.”
Hettinger said there was an overwhelming response from Cassville and people who wanted to volunteer and give back.
“We are hoping next year to do it over memorial day weekend and serve 100 veterans,” he said. “I was just telling Joel the other day that this is just the beginning.”
Hettinger said a veteran from Hawaii, a Medal of Honor recipient and the oldest Medal of Honor recipient in Missouri will be coming to this event.
“I want people to know that even though we can’t pay for everyone’s licenses, tags or meals, people are welcome to come fish and talk with these veterans,” he said. “The group has a schedule, but it’s an opportunity to make a difference.”
Hettinger said there are a number of activities scheduled, including fly tying class, swimming, basketball, walking in the woods, hike and go seek, kickball and much more.