Local veteran paying it forward for others
May 6, 2021
"I was trying to reacclimate with life, and I knew that was something I wanted to bring to other veterans," said John Torres, a retired Marine infantryman, while he was outdoors on his family's land. The Torres family homesteaded on Eddy Flat near Thompson Falls in the late 1880s, and he recently became the caretaker of the property. Having served in combat and in the military, Torres is familiar with PTSD and the strain that tolls the minds of many veterans, even one that was never injured badly enough to come home. According to Torres, there are a number of organizations that help veterans who have been injured to get out into nature, but only a few that help the rest in the same way.
In 2020, Torres teamed up with a friend from the military whom he served with, Thomas Schueman. The two started the nonprofit Patrol Base Abbate, or PB Abbate. Both served in Kilo Company 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, and were deployed in Sangin, Afghanistan between 2010 and 2011, which was a particularly well-known and bloody deployment. The name of the nonprofit came from a mutual friend who was a marine sniper. His name was Sergeant Mathew Abbate, and he was killed in action in 2010.
Torres was contacted by Schueman about procuring property in Montana for their group and Torres offered up his family property. Now the home base for the organization's endeavors, the Torres' place consists of over 200 acres along the ridge north of the Clark Fork River, just 10 miles east of Thompson Falls.
This last weekend, PB Abbate paired with the armed forces division of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers to take eight veterans turkey hunting. Seven out of eight were successful, and the trip was all expenses paid by both organizations. Seven of the veterans were men, with one woman, and they were all from different branches and from all over the country. Participants were members of either perspective group and stayed between April 29 and May 2. The retreat also provided education about the hunting process, laws and regulations and how to clean the animals. This trip gave veterans with little to no experience the ability to have a successful hunt.
This was the first retreat planned at the Torres place and held by PB Abbate. According to Torres, they would like to do at least four retreats every summer, and plan on doing four more this year in the month of July. Torres said they are still learning the logistics but believe four is a reasonable goal.
The nonprofit can be found online at pbabbate.org, or on Facebook and Instagram under the same name.