U.S. Army Ranger Chance Vaughn survived a point-blank .45 round to the left side of his head in combat in October 2007 in Mosul, Iraq. Against the odds, he is able to walk and talk ten years later. Storm 22, an organization supporting veterans with post-traumatic stress syndrome and traumatic brain injuries, plans to take Vaughn and his father on a deer hunt in September at the Oaks Game Ranch in rural Stover. The hunt was donated by Oaks Ranch manager Bob Story. (social media photo)

Thanks to a donation by ranch manager Bob Story, a disabled combat veteran will have a deer hunt next month at a game ranch in rural Stover. Thanks to a donation by ranch manager Bob Story, a disabled combat veteran will have a deer hunt next month at a game ranch in rural Stover. Staff Sgt. Chance Vaughn of Denham Springs, La., will be making the trip Thursday, Sept. 7 to Sunday, Sept. 10 at The Oaks Ranch, approximately one mile southwest of Route 135 on Ivy Bend Road. He will be accompanied by his father, also a retired veteran. Story gave a similar hunt last year to disabled veteran Dusty Hill, who was introduced to him by local conservation agent Kurt Heisler. This year, Story donated Vaughn’s hunt to Storm 22, a Denham Springs-based organization that describes its mission as “bringing fellowship, comfort, and relief to disabled combat veterans.” During the last two years, Story has also donated two youth deer hunts to the Morgan County Caring for Kids Coalition at the National Wild Turkey Federation banquet. “We are pleased to do whatever we can for local law enforcement, veterans, and children,” said Story. Storm 22 was started in 2016 by Brad Ford and Brent Ballard, two disabled veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Ford said Vaughn was hit in the arm and the head with .45-caliber rounds during a firefight with insurgents in Iraq. He underwent many surgeries, and was expected never to walk or talk again. “Now he’s doing both,” said Ford. According to a 2010 story about Vaughn in the U.S. Army publication The Bayonet, Vaughn, then 25, was injured in 2007 leading a squad of U.S. Army Rangers into an insurgent-held house in Mosul, Iraq. Ballard said Vaughn, as squad leader, was supposed to be the last man through the door, but when the firing started, the man in front of him froze and Vaughn ran around him into direct fire. After being shot, Ballard said, Vaughn continued to fight and eliminated the immediate threat, before collapsing due to blood loss.  “He’s a huge hero to us,” said Ballard, his voice thick with emotion. “He saved that other guy’s life.” The first bullet hit Vaughn’s arm. The second entered his head near his left eye, traveled the outer edge of his skull, and took away most of the left side of his head. Surgeons put a titanium mesh plate in his head to replace the missing portion of his skull.  The injury impaired Vaughn’s speech, his ability to read and write, his short-term memory, and his strength on the right side of his body. He had to re-learn many skills, such as speaking, walking, running, and dressing himself. “He can’t remember anything before (the incident),” said Ballard, noting Vaughn graduated from college in 2004. Ballard said Vaughn had to study photos of his wedding with his wife Jennifer, among other facts about his pre-injury life that he had to re-learn. During his recovery, Vaughn developed an interest in taxidermy and hunting, according to The Bayonet. Ballard said Vaughn “always wanted to kill a big deer, but he never had the opportunity. His dad is also a retired veteran, so we’re also bringing his dad along, so they can enjoy this hunt together.” To explain how Storm 22 got its name, Ballard cited a statistic that 22 armed forces veterans take their own lives every day. Many of them have been affected by either PTSD or traumatic brain injuries. Since 2001, said Ballard, “More service people and veterans die from suicide every day in the United States of America than die in combat. We want to bring national attention to this number, and do what we can to bring this number down.” He said many of these veterans live “without anyone to show them love, or care, or stress relief, or a support system, and as a result, they often take their own lives. We want to prevent that.” Storm 22 does this, Ballard said, by giving veterans with disabling injuries and PTSD the kind of support network and stress relievers they need. He explained “stress relievers” as activities like “hunting, fishing, whatever the veteran likes, whatever his hobbies are, whatever he wants to do but doesn’t have a chance to do.” “We want to give back to our brothers and sisters,” Ballard said. The organization has worked with numerous veterans, taking them on hog hunts, fishing trips, and four-wheeler rides – sometimes simply helping them pay bills, or otherwise showing support. “We’re growing, and we need help to keep growing, to help more veterans and to get the word out,” said Ballard. Ballard gave Story credit for making Vaughn’s hunting trip possible. “Bob is just an amazing guy,” he said. “He did everything he could to make this happen.” For more information about The Oaks Ranch, call 573-569-2560.  For more information about Storm 22, visit www.storm22.org, or call 225-413-1479.