Raptors and veterans together for Veterans Day family event

Veterans in dress uniform carry the eagle’s travel box into the presentation hall at Huntington, W. Va., VA Medical Center for the Nov 9th Veterans Day event. Forest Service photo.

WEST VIRGINIA — The Forest Service participated in a special Veterans Day event Nov. 9 at the Huntington, West Virginia, Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center. The center hosted a special family event, and Jo Santiago, International Programs, brought birds of prey for a presentation about the importance of conserving habitat for migratory species. She brings six birds, including, among the four migratory raptors, a rarely seen Merlin falcon. Santiago’s presentation tells the story of each bird. She weaves in the idea that everyone has a role in the conservation of migratory creatures and their habitats.

The highlight of the Veterans Day presentation was Freedom, a bald eagle. The eagle is on loan from the American Eagle Foundation. It would not survive in the wild. Santiago and her birds regularly work with a post-traumatic stress disorder support group at the Huntington facility.

Jo Santiago, International Programs, presents Freedom, the bald eagle, at the Nov 9th Veterans Day event held at the VA Medical Center in Huntington, W.Va. Forest Service photo.