Healing the Wounded: A Veteran Gives Back
Since 2015, the nonprofit organization Operation Heroes Support (OHS) has provided an outlet for disabled veterans to participate in outdoor activities such as hunting, festivals, fairs, tournaments, and fishing events.
About the Founder
OHS was created by its president, Charles Harris, a veteran who served in the Army. He was discharged after severe injuries during deployment.
“I’m a double amputee. I lost my right leg below the knee and my left leg to the knee. I almost lost my right arm as well, but through reconstructive surgery, it was able to be saved,” explained Charles.
After returning home, Charles realized there was a vital element in his healing journey.
“When I got injured, a major part of my recovery was getting back to the outdoors,” Charles said. “And I wanted to give that same support to other disabled veterans.”
Giving Back to Disabled Veterans
After hearing about OHS and what the organization provides for veterans at a local catfish tournament, CSX Tooling Director Mike Cornachia met with Charles to organize a fishing trip.
Although not an official member of the OHS, Mike wanted to participate in events to do what he could to give back.
“I’m a veteran myself that served in the Army,” Mike added. “And I feel the sacrifices these disabled veterans made should be repaid through our service to them.”
CES Employees Support the Cause
During the catfish tournament, Mike introduced Charles Harris to City Electric Supply (CES) Washington Group District Manager Scotty Pratt.
“I got involved with the Operation Heroes Support organization through Mike,” Scotty explained. “However, I’ve done fishing events with Mike, even before I started working with CES in 2016.”
Mike spoke with Charles about hosting a four-day weekend event that included fishing and camping in Wachapreague, Virginia. And he offered to provide lodging and meals at no cost to OHS.
Scotty Pratt offered to deliver supplies for the event.
“I helped supply shirts and hats for the guys,” added Scotty. “And CES Prince Frederick Branch Manager Erik Stokely donated half a dozen reels and rods to OHS.”
Even though Mike organized the majority of the event for the OHS, Charles was still heavily involved in getting people signed up for the fishing trip.
“I mostly dealt with the applications, licensing, and outreach side of things,” said Charles.
During the trip, the attendees fished within bays of the Atlantic Ocean and caught everything from flounder and trout to croakers. The camping grounds also provided a way for the veterans to enjoy the outdoors by the fire and share their experiences about their time during service.
“A lot of veterans deal with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and giving them this chance to talk about what they are going through can help them get through the struggles that often come with being a disabled veteran,” Mike explained.
Scotty Pratt was impressed with how the community came together for the fishing trip.
“It’s a small community in Wachapreague, but we had a really good turnout,” said Scotty. “Everyone brought something for the guys. They had a band come to play for free and even had a local restaurant welcome the veterans to feed them.”
And the event brought about good memories for the guys.
“One of my favorite parts about these trips is spending time with friends and fellow veterans,” said Charles.
As Operation Heroes Support continues to grow, CES hopes these events bring great joy to veterans and their families.