Dave Tupper knows the effects battle injuries can have on soldiers.
The 66-year-old, who worked as a operating room technician during the Vietnam War, saw horrific wounds firsthand and understands that they can go deeper than the flesh.
Major injuries can affect returning veterans mentally and prevent them from properly integrating back into society.
But there is hope.
The Wounded Warrior Project -- a nonprofit organization founded in 2003 -- aims to give assistance to many of those injured veterans and their families.
The group gets considerable funding through donations and fundraisers, and Tupper was instrumental in organizing a local benefit for the organization through his influence as business manager of a sporting clay and hunting club in the northern half of Merced County.
On Saturday, Rooster Ranch at 26166 Kelly Road in Hilmar is hosting an Independence Day Sporting Clays Tournament to raise funds for the Wounded Warrior Project.
The sporting clays tournament costs $85 to enter and includes lunch and prizes for the top-scoring shooters, Tupper said. $25 of each entry fee goes toward the Wounded Warrior Project.
Similar fundraisers at the club have raised as much as $10,000 for other organizations, but it takes time to build-up events to gain that kind of support. Such is the case for the Wounded Warrior Project Benefit Tournament.
"This is the first one," Tupper said. "We hope we can do it again. We'd like it to become an annual event."
When Tupper first brought up the idea of hosting the benefit, he said the rest of the crew at Rooster Ranch immediately approved of the suggestion.
"The whole organization here is behind it," he said.
Ken Harrison, a member of the Merced Breakfast Lions Club and an informal publicity coordinator for Rooster Ranch, said with all the various shooting benefits the organization does, he hopes Saturday's event gains steam and becomes something special.
"It's the club's way to give something back to the veterans," Harrison said.
During the Vietnam era, Tupper said he saw a lot of injured soldiers who "fell through the cracks" because of a lack of support. He wants to make sure that doesn't happen again.
"Those poor boys had one hell of a time trying to figure out, 'How am I going to go on with this condition?' " Tupper said.
With the Wounded Warrior Project, situations are improving for many veterans.
"The country in general has been very supportive of this project," Tupper said. "They deserve to be appreciated. They've earned it."
For more information about the event, call (209) 667-0483 or visit www.roosterranchonline.com.
Reporter Mike North can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or email@example.com.
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