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A Battle for Wounded Warriors

GREENVILLE -- They paid with personal sacrifice now they want New York to pay it forward.  Wounded Warriors are leaving the hospital for the weekend to go on a turkey hunt in the Capital Region.  But it turns out, they have to pay state fees for a day of fun and some say that's just not fair.

These men know something some of us may never -- what it's like to leave this all behind for war.

"If we're not paying attention to this, and we take our freedoms for granted, we'll lose them," said Assemblyman Pete Lopez (R-Schoharie).

They're recruiting Lopez to fight a battle for Wounded Warriors.  Eleven of them are headed to Greene County this weekend for a turkey hunt.  Each must pay $135 in state fees. But volunteers say these veterans have paid enough already.

"I find it repulsive that New York State can't do something for our veterans," said Bob Bolte.

The DEC wrote that it can't for this particular group since they are from out of state.  They're now reaching out to the Governor.

'The program is a chance to put them back in to society and maybe even give them one more day of pleasure that all of the people in the United States enjoy because of their effort," Bolte said.

The hunt is Saturday, but the battle doesn't end there.

When asked if he would introduce legislation to waive permit fees for disabled veterans and Wounded Warriors," Lopez said,  "I'm actually working on it as a result of this conversation," Lopez said.

Whether Lopez proposes to waive all fees or just ones for special events like the one planned here, the volunteers know the group of fighters coming to walk the woods this weekend will be thankful.

"They're not going to be able to enjoy life like all the rest of us are -- and they're very upbeat," Bolte said.  "I never saw one down there that felt sorry for himself."

These guys are still collecting money for the Wounded Warriors, and the non-profit organization that has helped over 31,000 veterans with mental or physical disabilities since September 11th, 2001.

Lopez said the Cuomo administration is sensitive to veterans affairs so there's hope they may get those fees for this weekend's hunt waived.  The Governor's press office said it would consider such action when the assemblyman formally makes it.

For New York State residents, active duty servicemen are eligible for a free small game hunting license.  Some veterans with service-related disabilities can buy licenses for $5.00.  They would still need to buy turkey permits.

Anyone who wishes to donate can write checks to the NCLB (Northern Catskills Longbeards) at 8 Bolte Lane, Rensselaerville NY 12147, or call Bob at 518-470-7762
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