Hugh Middleton is a big believer that things happen for a reason. How else would one explain his path to becoming the Patriot Point general manager in November 2020?
After graduating from The Citadel, Hugh served 14 years as a U.S. Navy SEAL. He separated from the Navy and worked for a few defense contracting firms before co-founding a software company, Kopis Mobile, in 2013, where he is the chief executive officer.
In November 2016, Hugh was invited to a weekend hunt sponsored by the Grand National Waterfowl Association in Dorchester County.
“Typically the duck hunt happens on Friday and a goose hunt is scheduled for Saturday morning,” he said. “Local landowners donate the use of their property for the hunts. I could have been assigned to any number of locations, but I was assigned to Patriot Point, which I had never heard of it. It was early in the morning and dark as we drove down. I had no idea where we were going. As the sun came up and I got to see the property, I thought to myself, ‘What an amazing place.’ And the duck hunting wasn’t too bad either. Had I not come up for that hunt, I might have never heard of Patriot Point.”
Hugh returned for a few more hunts and when he moved back to the area, he started to volunteer his time on the farm. The more he was there, the more he enjoyed it – to the point that he spent all of his free time helping out.
“I feel the need to give back to the recovering service member community,” he said. “I’m just very, very lucky that I have all my limbs, that I’m alive. I do this because I want to help those who are worse off than myself. To me, this is a therapeutic place. We were sitting around with a group of guests yesterday, talking about how special this place is and what it does for people. It’s almost hard to describe unless you have been here. A vet can sit on the fishing pier and stare at the sunset or look up to see geese and ducks flying over. You can almost watch their worries melt away.
“I enjoy talking to people and I feel that I can relate to the guests because I’ve experienced issues very similar to the ones they carry down here with them. I have a lot of friends who have gone through some very bad times and seen the worst of humanity in combat zones.”
“A lot of these veterans are great entrepreneurs and have started companies. I can talk to them about business or whatever is going on in their heads. I describe it as a faucet: The other day, Freedom Hunters brought a group down for a hunt. Most of the guys had never met before, so they were very quiet at first. But then you turn on the faucet and it trickles out a bit. As they sat around the big dining table to eat dinner, they are eating together, they started talking and within five minutes they were telling stories and laughing. It’s a healing process through peer to peer communication. That is what Patriot Point does for our recovering service members. It is amazing to watch the transformation.”