JASPER, TX (KTRE) - Americans around the world celebrate Independence Day with fireworks and barbecue, but an East Texas wounded veteran group, Hell or High Waters, was determined to keep the attention where it should be.
"I started reading that around 22 veterans a day are committing suicide, and I just thought that was unacceptable," said the organizations founder, Ben Mallon.
It's a statistic this organization has made their priority to make a difference in and help those that come home from war cope with their experiences. Bo Jones, a veteran from the US Army's 25th Infantry, said he wishes more veterans knew about this resource,
"Not many people even know that there are organizations that want to go the extra mile to help veterans have a good time," Jones said.
Chase Oliver, who has been with the organization from the start, said this guidance is so important to give to wounded veterans.
"They deserve it. They need it. Our country owes it to them because it wasn't for our veterans, we wouldn't be sitting here doing this," Oliver said.
A Texas game warden explained that Mallon has been working tirelessly with several agencies to ensure this day was a success.
"There are so many people working so hard to make this happen, law enforcement, Parks and Wildlife want to make sure those with disabilities get to go out and enjoy the things they used to love," said James Barge, an Angelina-County based Texas Parks and Wildlife game warden.
"It just gives them a sense of peace; that's really one of the most important things," said Chad Waligura, who works as a mentor to wounded veterans. "Giving them peace and letting them get back to some level of normalcy."
Honoring those that risked it all is this group's main priority.
"It takes a special person to stand in front of line of fire and not back down and to come home and deal with the things they have to deal with, it'll break you down real quick. It's a hard to even talk about it, really," Oliver said.
Hell or High Water does other events throughout the year like hunting and fishing trips.
"Our primary focus was taking these guys duck hunting, and that's when we found out that the need was much more than that," Mallon said.
It reminds us that the most important part of celebrating July 4th, is to remember all of the ones that risked their lives to give us that freedom.
"It's not only to remember our independence; it's also for everybody that didn't make it back, and did make it back because either way everyone leaves a little bit of themselves over there," Jones said.
If you want to find out how you can get involved with the organization or make a donation to ensure its future success, all you have to do is visit www.hellorhighwatersoutdoors.org.