In his 25 years as a Special Forces soldier, including service as a Green Beret captain, Mykel Hawke experienced the loss of “a lot of brothers” in combat.
Now known for the outdoor adventure TV programs he created for the Discovery Channel and other networks, he says one of the most rewarding things he’s ever done is “come alongside children who have lost a parent in the service of the nation and witness the miracle of healing” that can take place in that mentoring relationship.
“Everything that I’ve done in my adult life – nothing has given me greater satisfaction to my core than to be part of teaching those kids and seeing them heal and come back and know that they’re going to go out into the world and they’re going to do good things and they’re going to be great,” he told WND in an interview.
That life-changing relationship is the premise of a new organization Hawke is helping develop called Healing the Wounds, which plans to assist children who have lost a parent serving in law enforcement or the military.
The new nonprofit has the backing of prominent military veterans, former government officials and the chief of police of a major city.
Hawke is helping lead an initial outdoor adventure in Alaska this summer that will demonstrate the power of the idea.
Healing the Wounds is now seeking a corporate sponsor that shares the vision, along with citizens who wish to become members and sponsors.
Hawke said the organization is “very simply about getting the young boys and girls who have lost a parent in serving their country, whether at home or abroad, into a wonderful, safe space where they can learn to live, love, laugh again and heal, and then go back out into the world and be the best human being that they could possibly be.”
Healing the Wounds also is developing a 24-hour support call center, access to a vast custom video learning library and career mentoring.
Hawke, the creator of Discovery Channel programs “Man, Woman, Wild” and “One Man Army,” the Travel Channel’s “Lost Survivors” and the Outdoor Channel’s “Elite Tactical Unit,” said he’s committed to building on-going relationships with the kids, making himself available through regular correspondence as well as the outdoor adventures.
The outdoors, where people are “stripped of all the clutter,” he said, is the ideal environment for the healing of wounds.
He speaks from experience, having already led Gold Star teens on wilderness trips in which he teaches the survival skills for which he is known.
Transformation takes place, he said, when “you get the kids out in nature and they realize that life is still wonderful, that it’s still beautiful, that there’s still a world full of potential and hope for them.”
“You’re doing things their own parents would have done with them. Take them out hiking, camping, fishing, exploring,” he said.
“You see those light bulbs come on, when they’re really scared to cross a river, cross a rope bridge. And then they do it and we say, ‘Your dad, your mom, would have been proud of you.’ And, bam, you get the goosebumps. They get the goosebumps, and it resonates, and they come out of their shells.”
Along with Hawke, the Healing the Wounds advisory board includes retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas G. McInerney; retired Army Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin; Vietnam POW Col. Ken Cordier; former chief investigative counsel for the House Judiciary Committee David Schippers; Rep. Clay Higgins, R-La.; Detroit’s chief of police, James Craig; and Karen Vaughn, the mother of a Navy SEAL Team 6 member who died in the 2011 Taliban attack on a helicopter in Afghanistan carrying two dozen Special Forces personnel.
Vaughn and her husband, Billy, have been tireless advocates for the children of fallen military heroes. She has appeared before Congress and was a featured speaker at the Republican National Convention in 2016.
“Who’s going to teach these kids to do the things their dads taught them to to do?” she asked in an interview with WND. “These weren’t normal men. These were extreme men.”
Hawke, the son of a soldier and a waitress, grew up in poverty and learned survival the hard way, living on the streets for an entire winter at the age of 14.
“What it taught me was a value for everything in life and to appreciate every little act of kindness and every little nice thing that you have,” he said.
He’s been able to pass on those values for two decades now, teaching people to be thankful for “every little thing they have.”
“And once you get your head around that, you can smile again, you can start appreciating the little things,” Hawke said. “And once you start making small steps, before you know it you’re making great leaps and strides towards getting to a better place.
“I just like to teach people that there’s always hope. As long as you are alive and breathing, there is hope.”
He urges Americans not only to remember the children of a parent who dies serving overseas but also of those who serve in police forces and as first responders.
“There is a big rip between some segments of the population and the police force,” he observed.
“People need to be reminded, he said, that these are good people; they stepped up, they face evil every single day, and every single day, some of them are dying, and they’re leaving behind children – good kids that are missing a parent,” Hawke said.
“So, as a society, I feel that the best thing we can do, is to reach out to them and help get them on the right path,” he said.
“I think is such a small investment for such a gigantic long-term return.”