Rodeo Austin is extending a helping hand to vets, and in this case it involves shot guns and clay pigeons. The birdshot was flying at Walter E. Long park for the Rodeo Austin Shoot Out Sporting Clay Tournament.
The purpose is to raise money for youth education, but for a small group of Purple Heart veterans there is another purpose.
John Burkhardt of Texas Capitol Chapter of Order of Purple Hearts says, "This event is a real morale booster for the different vets...it gives us a sense of togetherness and for an hour our minds are off everything except shooting."
It may not seem like therapy but anytime vets can be around other vets there always seems to be a benefit...even around shattered clay pigeons.
Gary Penick a Vietnam Veteran says, "For us it's great because the Vietnam vets weren't treated well and it's nice to see the Afghanistan and Iraq vets are being treated better and that they can get out on these hunts especially the ones with TBI and PTSD and severe injuries."
This tournament is all about raising money. last year rodeo austin raised about 2.6 million dollars for youth scholarships and awards. The entry fee here goes toward that so it's not cheap to shoot. But the veterans are here as guests, they were sponsored. The president of Rodeo Austin Brian Lehne wouldn't have it any other way.
"It's extremely important...I mean they are why we are here...it's like the kids..it's our future and I appreciate everything they do."
And while everyone here understands a sporting clay tournament might nor be "giving our all"...it is an opportunity for these veterans to get outside and be together...and for some that's enough.