When given the opportunity to write a series that would feature local veterans, I immediately turned to my husband Adam Hopper. He reluctantly agreed to let me write about him. I first met Adam, in Alaska, while I was a rookie firefighter. He was appointed as my supervisor at our local fire station. He was very tough on me, but, as I got to know him, I discovered that his gruff exterior was likely due to the sacrifices he made for our country, joining the Army at the age of 18, and being deployed at 21.
Deployed in 2011, to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom where he supported troops during operations in the Kunar Valley, and transported detainees from the operation to Jalalabad Airbase. He was later tasked to 1st Cav Hhc for personal security detail for the Provence Commander in Bagram, for the remainder of his deployment. He had to return early, due to a knee injury he suffered in Afghanistan. Upon returning, he underwent several surgeries to repair his knee. Ultimately, he was medically discharged due to the significance of the injury in 2013.
Adam and I were married in 2014, in a traditional Thai ceremony thrown by my parents in Lehigh Acres. While in SWFL for the wedding, we visited LaBelle and immediately fell in love with it and relocated from our tiny town, Big Lake, Alaska. Adam has often referred to LaBelle as a tropical version of Big Lake.
He has enjoyed work as a firefighter, propane technician, CDL truck driver, and even as an Agriculture Inspector for the State of Florida. But when Hurricane Irma suddenly came along, she destroyed our home. While we were relocated in FEMA hotels, Adam stumbled upon a great opportunity to work in the oilfields in his hometown of Weatherford, OK and snatched it up. He returns to LaBelle as often as he can, as you can imagine though, it is quite the commute. He misses his family, but is no stranger to having to live far from home after his time in the Army. So, he has taken it all in stride.
Adam is passionate about helping other veterans, especially combat veterans like himself, who suffer from PTSD (and other mental and/or physical scars.) He aspires to create lasting change for veterans, through the start of a non-profit therapy program based in LaBelle. Veterans from around the country will be provided with room and board, while they learn to gentle and train BLM mustangs, then offer them for adoption. The bonds that are formed between horses and humans have proven to be powerful therapy. Adam has experienced this himself, crediting much of the healing of his many invisible but deep wounds, to the interactions he has had with wild horses. This program would not only benefit veterans, but the mustangs, too, as there are over 36,000 BLM mustangs sitting in long-term holding pens that are awaiting adoption. He is working diligently on this project and hopes it will come to fruition in 2019.
The staff at the Caloosa Belle would like to thank all Veterans for their service and over the next few months we would like to tell your story because it deserves to be heard. Call us at 863-675-2541 or drop us an email to email@example.com if you would like to have your story told.