COEUR d'ALENE, Idaho - As Nick Jeffries has made the transition back into life as a civilian, serving others has taken on a whole new meaning. The combat veteran is now making it his mission to look out for others who know what he's gone through -- like Joey Lowe, who sacrificed so much for our country.
"I've really taken a passion to combat veterans and what it is we've been through together," said Jeffries. "The humbleness of this guy and what he's accomplished even with his injuries is pretty amazing."
Lowe became a paraplegic in 2005, when he was injured by an improvised explosive device (IED) while he was serving in Iraq.
"I met Joe at an archery shop in Spokane Valley. He was wearing an American flag hat and I asked him if he served in the military, and he said, 'yeah, I was a marine tanker,'" Jeffries remembers. "And I said 'what, did you get blown up with a triple stack IED?' He said, 'how did you know that?'"
The two formed a friendship from there, bonding over their shared love of hunting, which has been stifled for Lowe because of his injury.
"Hunting's always been spending time with buddies for me and just getting out," Lowe said. "Harvesting an animal has always been secondary and even more so after I got injured because harvesting an animal in a wheelchair is tough."
Hunting and harvesting was nearly impossible for Lowe -- until today, when Jeffries surprised him with something he'd been working on all summer.
Jeffries raffled off two of his custom-made antler chandeliers at North 40 Outfitters earlier this summer and made $1,300, before North 40 donated a $200 gift card for Lowe and Scotty's Smokehouse and Sausages pitched in the meat processing costs. Will Baldwin and Jeffries worked together to find elk and deer depredation tags for Lowe, then teamed up to surprise him on Will's land Tuesday.
"To meet this Marine just in a bow shop and not even have served with him, and we've been out for a long time, to still be watching out for each other and taking care of each other, it means a lot," Lowe said. "It just feels so good just to have this guy right here. It's too much!"
Now, Lowe will have the rest of the season to hunt and harvest alongside Jeffries on Baldwin's land.
"I'm just so grateful to have the great friends that I do," Lowe said. "Just good people that make stuff like this happen."
After seeing the reaction on Lowe's face, Jeffries is hoping this will be the first of many surprises for other combat veterans.
"It's pretty special and pretty important to me in my life," Jeffries said. "To be able to give back and give something that I'm so passionate about to someone else, it's just, it's more meaningful than I can put into words."
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