Organization, tournament seeks to aid Purple Heart recipients

(Photo courtesy of Purple Heart Fishing Tournament)

BEAUFORT, Carteret County - The Wounded Warriors in Action Foundation is finding ways to giving combat-wounded purple heart recipients the opportunity to take part in outdoor sporting activities as a means of strengthening their emotional and mental health.

Out on a boat Friday, veterans from different eras swapped stories about their deployments.

For Dave Seaton, a machine gunner during Vietnam, and Jessie Hines, the director of the Purple Heart Tournament who served in Iraq in 2006, the bonds of war brought them together.

"I didn't realize at the time I was going through stuff, so when I came back I was dealing with my adrenaline the wrong way," Seaton said. "I wasn't finding a good avenue to get it out."

While on the boat Friday, both men said they were able to talk about things they had never spoken about with anyone else before. That common experience creates a comfort level, they said, which is the whole idea behind the program.

"It's someplace to go, somebody to talk to, somebody that can relate to what you went through," Hines said. "You can share a lot with them, a whole lot more than you can with someone else."

Hines founded the Purple Heart Fishing Tournament, which is set for Aug. 5 in Beaufort. He sees fishing as a way to help others heal.

"You can't stay depressed out here," he said. "It's almost impossible to get depressed with this beauty and the wildlife and the people."

The Purple Heart Fishing Tournament will give 100 percent of its proceeds - which includes entry fees and proceeds from the fish sold after the weigh-ins - to the Wounded Warriors in Action program. The minimum entry fee for the event, which will be held at the Beaufort Yacht Basin, is $65. To register, visit their website.

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