Jefferson Award Winner: Tom Tavtigian

Jefferson Awards

MANHATTAN, Kan. (KSNT) – After spending more than 20 years fighting for our country, Tom Tavtigian returned home armed and ready for a new war.

He offers veterans from across the U.S. the opportunity to sign up for free outdoor sporting events with his non-profit Wounded Warriors United.

“If I say ‘hey, let’s get a group of guys together, let’s talk about our problems,’ no one’s going to show up,” Tavtigian said. “But let’s go fishing or let’s go hunting, guess what you’re going to have a lot of people show up.”

Since starting the organization in 2014 in Manhattan, Kansas, Tavtigian’s helped hundreds of veterans by using what he calls the ‘campfire effect.’

“There’s something about a campfire sitting around with a bunch of guys talking,” he said. “They just, for some reason all it takes is me sharing my story and then all of a sudden, the next guy shares his.”

Tavitigian’s story is filled with pain and perseverance.

In 2008, while deployed in Iraq, the vehicle he was riding in ran over an IED, “It pretty much blew up right under my seat.”

The IED explosion ended his military career and led to him undergoing 22 different operations.

“I know when he came home it was very overwhelming and it was definitely a learning process I think for everybody,” Courtney Marshall, Tom’s daughter said while talking about her dads recovery. “I think one thing that helps him cope with everything is he really honors everyone else’s service and he’s very thankful for the people who are veterans now too.”

Faced with a war of his own, Tavtigian chose to not only make peace with himself but also in the lives of dozens of other veterans across the U.S.

If you would like to sign up for a Wounded Warrior Event, or volunteer or donate to the program, click HERE.

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