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Team Vet Fishing hopes to help Abilene veterans, first responders and children struggling with mental health issues |  KTAB

ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – The non-profit fishing organization Team Vet opens a branch in Abilene. Team Vet is a veteran-owned organization that helps veterans, first responders, and children through mental health issues.

Founder and former Mississippi Fire Chief Tom Sturgeon served in the United States Navy and is a 100% disabled veteran, completely losing his hearing while dealing with PTSD, anxiety and severe depression .

“I’ve attempted suicide more than four times,” Sturgeon said.

After the fourth attempt, Sturgeon and his wife had a vision to serve others through outdoor activities like bass fishing, which is one of his great passions.

“My wife and I decided to take the boat, the truck, and started bringing vets,” Sturgeon said.

Using his disability income, Sturgeon bought a boat and a truck and began taking disabled veterans and children fishing to help them take their mind off their daily battles.

“I wanted to be able to reach as many people as possible. I have so many friends who have committed suicide, and I wanted them to know, “Hey, there are people who care about you, people who want to help you,” Sturgeon said.

This week, Sturgeon and his team found themselves on the road from Alabama to West Texas to meet with Hurshel Prince, the current manager of the Abilene branch of Team Vet.

Prince called Sturgeon and asked how he could help and if there was a way to get the Vet team to Abilene. Within a week they had packed their bags, boats and more and were bound for Big Country.

Arriving earlier this week, Sturgeon and Prince went over the logistics of having a Team Vet outlet in Abilene, agreeing it was the right move with nearby Dyess Air Force Base.

“I’ve fished tournaments for over 25 years and this is the best thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” Prince said.

Sturgeon said Team Vet is for the “real heroes” of the military and first responder communities: those strong enough to admit they need help and seek it.

“I had an incident where a man was in my boat, and all of a sudden we’re looking down and he’s got a gun in his hand. I said what are you doing?’ He said: ‘I would never have hurt a brother, but after that I’m going home,” Sturgeon said. “We talked, and I have his gun and we were able to get him to help. I talk to him every month. It’s about that.

The goal is to help those who feel like they can never get up from the bottom and give them a second chance. Sturgeon said he wanted to get as many people on his boat as possible to show them that there are people who care, even when times seem bleak.

“I will take the burden of having all of these stories and memories if I know there is one person we were able to save,” Sturgeon said.

He also said that when someone calls for help, if they are able, they will pack up and leave as soon as possible, even if it means driving across the country.

Abilene is just Team Vet’s first stop in Texas, as they begin their Texas Team Bass Fishing tour from Hubbard Creek in Shackelford County on January 15. They will also return to Hubbard Creek on August 14.

From there, the vet team will travel to Lake Possum Kingdom on February 5, Lake OH Ivie on March 12 and June 4, Lake Brownwood on May 14, Lake Clyde on July 9, and wrap up with their two-day classic at Sam Rayburn. September 10 and 11.

Each tournament will have an entry fee of $250 per team, as well as a $50 reward for the biggest bass. There will be a 70% refund for each tournament.

You can find more information about Team Vet and how to contact them on their Facebook page, as well as on their Instagram, @teamvet21.


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