Veterans helping Veterans, meet Wounded Warriors United-Minnesota Published Nov. 17, 2023 By Audra Flanagan 148th Fighter Wing Duluth, Minn. -- Wounded Warriors United – Minnesota is a 501C3 non-profit organization that takes wounded and combat veterans living in Minnesota on fully-funded, outdoor hunting, fishing, and camping adventures. Wounded Warriors United – Minnesota began in 2014, after Tech. Sgt. Logan Shiflett, an Aircraft Armament Specialist assigned to the 148th Fighter Wing, met Tom Tavtigain at an outdoor sports show in Duluth, Minn. Tavtigian, a wounded warrior himself, went through 17 surgeries after his vehicle ran over an IED during a deployment to Iraq. While receiving extensive medical care, Tavtigain met many wounded warriors and saw the injuries they sustained while serving their country. Later, he formed Wounded Warriors United in his home state of Kansas, to provide all-inclusive events at no cost to help heal the hearts and minds of America’s heroes. Shortly after meeting Tavtigain, Shiflett raised money and took two veterans on a goose hunting trip to South Dakota. He was hooked. Shiflett, the founder and President of what is now called Wounded Warriors United – Minnesota, took the many steps to formalize the non-profit organization. Shiflett, from Cromwell, Minn., joined the 148th Fighter Wing in 2018 after serving 13-years in the Minnesota Army National Guard. His deployments include Kuwait and Iraq in 2011 and Prince Sultan Air Base, Saudi Arabia with the 148th in 2022. Soon after, Master Sgt. Ted Johnson, also an Aircraft Armament Specialist assigned to the 148th Fighter Wing, joined Shiflett on making outdoor adventures available for veterans and now serves as Vice President of Wounded Warriors United - Minnesota. Johnson joined the 148th Fighter Wing in 2012 after serving in both the Minnesota Army National Guard and the Marine Corps. Johnson and Shiflett were deployed together in 2011, conducting convoy escort security missions, in Kuwait and Iraq. Johnson later deployed to Ahmad al-Jaber Air Base, Kuwait with the 148th in 2018. Shiflett’s favorite aspect of running Wounded Warriors United – Minnesota is “being together and helping Veterans who might not otherwise be able to attend because of medical or financial hardships.” “It’s therapeutic for us,” said Johnson on why he volunteers his time to this organization. “We take for granted that we work with veterans (at the 148th Fighter Wing) who get it. The veterans we take on outdoor adventures don’t have the same circle of peers. These trips make a difference to them,” added Johnson. Wounded Warriors United – Minnesota plans and executes 10-12 outdoor adventures per year. “We started with nothing and now we’re one of the largest outdoor veterans’ organizations in Minnesota,” said Shiflett. Past adventures include hog hunting in Texas, Lake Superior fishing, prairie dog hunting in Montana, permit to carry classes, Bowfest, fly in fishing trips in Canada, and numerous other outdoor events. Every January, they host their largest annual event, ice fishing on Red Lake, Minn. All events are completely free for the Veterans. They cover the cost of food, lodging, any equipment a Veterans may need, plus licenses and anything else that may be required for a specific trip. Shiflett said “we take 130 to 150 veterans annually on outdoor adventures. The participating veterans have served in Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, Iraq, and Afghanistan.” The organization has grown to an eight-person, all-veteran volunteer board of directors who raise money through raffles, calendar sales, an annual motorcycle ride, and through private and corporate donations. Wounded Warriors United – Minnesota focuses its efforts on Minnesota veterans. “Some organizations require health issues be service connected with the Department of Veterans Affairs,” said Johnson. “That’s not always feasible. We just ask our participants to provide a DD Form 214 to show proof of service when they sign up for an event.” You can learn more about Wounded Warriors United – Minnesota by viewing their website www.wwumn.org or follow them on Facebook at @Wounded Warriors United-Minnesota.