Montana Wounded Warriors


Articles From Mackay 2018

I enlisted in the United States Army right out of high school. I showed up to Fort Benning Ga. on June 11, 2001. I always had a calling as far back as I can remember to serve my country. As I was about to graduate basic training, September 11th happened. I realized then that my training was not something fun or in case of.  I was, without a doubt, going to see combat in my military career. Fast forward to 2005, I was deployed to Iraq with the 172nd Stryker Brigade. We were an arctic light infantry unit thrown into a mechanized unit to deploy and do our part on the war of terrorism. On October 29th my life changed forever. I received a Red Cross message that my wife had given birth to our son eleven days prior. With the excitement of having a baby boy, my entire platoon was ecstatic for me. We geared up and prepped for our company mission coming up in a couple of hours. The mission didn’t go quite as hoped and there were casualties sustained. As we were exiting our mission, one of the Strykers ran into a car. While our PL was taking care of the accident reports we were held up in a security position. Right as soon as we were loading back up to leave I stood up in the squad leader hatch and a sniper had set in on that position. I was shot in the head. I don’t remember a ton after that. The next thing I do remember well was waking up in Walter Reed Army medical hospital. I was there for almost two years. After almost completely giving myself and seven years of my life to the Army, I anxiously waited to get released and sent back down range. Needless to say that didn’t happen. I was retired and sent home. How I had seen my life planned out was ruined. I struggled adjusting to being at home with babies and not in the fight with my boys. It was shortly thereafter that I was contacted about doing a hunt with a group of disabled veterans. Growing up in Montana, I loved hunting. I attended the first Montana Wounded Warriors (MTWW) hunt. Although I was not successful on that trip, it sparked a passion and drive in me that I hadn’t had since I was put out of the military. I attended more and more events with MTWW’s and created friendships with vets and staff alike. As I attended, there were always new faces coming, and I realized that the war is still raging on and we still have men and women coming home damaged – damaged in a mental and physical sense. I wanted to give back myself and help however I could. I was so honored three years ago when Neil Baumann, a board member of MTWW, asked me to lead a trip. On that trip I was able to really bond and talk to other vets that were in a very dark place in their lives just like I had been. Montana Wounded Warriors has created a support chain for veterans with veterans – people that really understand what is going on in each other’s lives. With the health care system broke and overwhelmed with the amount of veterans flooding the VA, we “Montana Wounded Warriors “ are able to change veterans lives in a very positive way. I was so proud when I got voted into the Montana Wounded Warriors board. The program has truly changed my life and helped me realize that I’m not broken. It would not have been possible without the aid of this program. Today I give back by leading trips for Montana Wounded Warriors. Even with a very busy schedule of a growing and thriving business that my wife and I started a couple years ago, MTWWs remains one of my main focuses on life. Sincerely – Ret. Sgt. (P) Mackay J. Mathiason U.S. Army