TROUTDALE, Va. - Volunteers broke ground at the Laurel Creek Campground on Thursday morning, and the site will hold retreats and adventure camps for military veterans.
It's a few piles of wood now, but in a few months, it'll be an escape for veterans returning home from war. It will include cabins with ramps and decks for veterans and their families to get away. "The idea is to get an older vet with a younger vet and create a bond out in an outback setting," property owner Tom Davis says.
Veterans will connect with each other, going on hiking and cycling adventures and eating meals together.
As a Vietnam veteran himself, Davis understands how much veterans need this retreat. He suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and survived open heart surgery after exposure to the chemical Agent Orange. "The main thing is post traumatic stress, being in a high-stress situation for 15 months. and then coming back and walking into civilian life. A death threat daily, and then they come back," Davis says.
He knows how to help veterans, considering he and his soldiers needed this kind of retreat. "We feel like we can do a better job in outback versus in the hospitals, so we think we have a ministry," Davis says.
Two groups teamed up on the project, a non-profit called Rescued Heart and Veteran's Stand Down. Volunteers from the three local Home Depot's also helped.
Bristol Home Depot store manager Joanne Pugesek says the company encourages involvement in veteran projects. "Many veterans that work with Home Depot are associates as well, so having veterans in the stores also helps us in order to create that bond," Pugesek says.
The site is expected to be finished around February, a place where veterans and trained mentors can help each other get back to civilian life.
For more information on Rescued Heart or the Laurel Creek Campground, visit the non-profit's website at www.rescuedheart.com.