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[dcs_fancy_header bgcolor=”#ffffff” color=”#000000″ fweight=”bold”]Battle-proven heroes, entertainers and industry icons come together for one night during SHOT Show in Las Vegas to gather resources and support the veterans who carry the deepest physical and mental scars, as well as the families who share in carrying that burden.[/dcs_fancy_header]

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hen we talk about the changes in warfare that have taken place over the last century, we often relate to the technologies, tactics and shifting global politics that drive our soldiers to battle and support their efforts in the fight. But one of the most significant factors of warfare is how a society cares for those warriors when they come home. One of the major changes that our troops have come to experience in just the last 20+ years is the community support that awaits them when they come home from battle fields afar.

After the disgraceful treatment of returning Vietnam and Korean War veterans, support for those who have served has dramatically improved at a social level (although it is shameful that the same cannot be said for the political level, but we’ll save that for the comments section). While resistance to the United States’ military involvement in global conflicts is often stiff, the majority of our society has learned to separate the individual warrior from the ideologies surrounding the battles we find ourselves engaged in. Where the government has fallen short in providing equipment in the field and medical as well as psychological after-care at home, that burden is carried by the families, friends and close-knit communities that surround those who return with debilitating physical injuries and emotional scars that may never heal. Just as battle buddies give their limbs and lives daily to protect and serve their comrades in combat, it is often the same brothers in arms that are the first to step up and support their fellow service members when the going gets rough at home.

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Each year during the NSSF SHOT Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, one of the finest examples of fund raising for wounded veterans and their families is held. Warrior Appreciation Night (WAN) supports several different military non-profit organizations, the largest being the American Legion, and is organized and directed by the dedicated members of the WAN Fund board of directors, all of whom are former military professionals and none of whom receive any financial compensation or reimbursement for their efforts. This small team of passionate professionals manages the event, the venue and the guests with regimented dedication focused on raising awareness of the needs of modern day warriors and raising the necessary financial resources to support them and their families.

[dcs_blockquote color=”#c70000″ margin=”24px 14px 24px 32px” title=”WAN Board Member
President, Khyber Training” author=”Wes Doss”]"Each of us comes with a different military history, spanning the last 20+ years, each of us are motivated by that history and the knowledge of what it takes to support troops and families in need. We do this for a higher cause!"[/dcs_blockquote]

Now working towards their third year running, Warrior Appreciation Night saw their most successful event to date with a charity auction that raised over $125,000. Notable guests and speakers included Army Ranger and Special Forces Legend Gary Oneal, Navy Seal Legend and Medal of Honor recipient Mike Thornton, WWII veteran and former 101st Airborne Legend Al Mampre, Army Ranger Mike Schlitz, actor Mike Rooker from the popular series “The Walking Dead”, actor Steve Kanaly from the primetime soap opera “Dallas”, actor Peter Sherayko from the movie “Tombstone” and PTSD specialist Dr. Carrie Elk.

On the heels of this year’s landmark accomplishment, the hard-working members of Warrior Appreciation Night are already planning to raise the stakes for next year’s event. The event has outgrown its venue and so many valuable items were generously donated that there was not enough time to auction all of them off (the items that remained will be offered at the next event). Generous support for this event also came from industry members such as the American Legion, Otis Technology, Bladetech, Magpul, Valkyrie Combat, Khyber Training, Trijicon and much more. For a full list of the 2014 sponsors, please visit wanfund.com/sponsors.

Guns & Tactics was also a proud supporter of Warrior Appreciation Night this year and we’re looking forward to an even more successful event next year with the opportunity to positively impact and serve those who have served us in their time of need.

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View more photos from WAN 2014 at http://wanfund.com/events/wan-2014/.

You can also keep up with WAN on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/warriorappreciationnight.

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Joshua Haarbrink is a consultant and traveler with a diverse background including more than 10 years of experience in loss prevention, surveillance, security services and fugitive recovery, as well as various creative writing and editing projects and other unique professional adventures. He is a shooting enthusiast and regular contributor to Guns & Tactics Magazine.