Struggling MN Vets Have New 'Nest' Upon Return
They're calling it a place to heal, for soldiers who've come home from war with nowhere to go.
A new, residential treatment facility in Sauk Centre is opening its doors this week to veterans, as an alternative to V.A. Hospitals.
It's called "Eagle's Healing Nest" and it was created by some people who know vets best--their moms.
37 vets are about to move into one of the 37 cozy, tidy rooms. They're looking to reintegrate into civilian life.
Dorothy Sills designed one of the rooms. She wanted it to be the kind of place that her son Johnny would have enjoyed, after he returned from Iraq. "It comes from a mother's heart, knowing what her child needs," Dorothy said.
Dorothy says the V.A. Failed to calm Johnny's post-traumatic stress disorder."It just gradually got worse," she explains.
"When my son came back he was in a very dark place," says Melony Butler, the creator of Eagle's Healing Nest. The V.A. was no help, she says. "They're lacking, they're filled, they're overloaded."
The mothers created the Nest on the 124 acre site of the former Minnesota Home School for Girls. The 22 buildings on the land had been vacant for years.
Funded almost entirely through donations, the facility's mission is straightforward: "to give the vets all the resources they need so we don't lose another generation like we did after Vietnam."
A veteran of that war, Dennis Stoltman, is on of the many volunteers stepping up to help. "I know I've had some problems getting some of the help I needed," he says, "and I got it only through the help of other people taking the extra step." It's his turn to pay it forward, he says.
Vietnam vet Bob Loxtercamp is preparing a stable for horses on the Nest's property--another place where new returnees can decompress. "You feel like it's something I can accomplish for the guys that are coming back now, that need the help," he says.
For Dorothy Sills it's help that never came in time, or in the right ways, for her son Johnny. He died in 2009. She sighs. "They just don't know how to handle it the right way," she says of many returning vets.
The hope is that landing at Eagle's Nest will bring them the help and the peace that they need. And most importantly, "to heal with honor."
For more information, click here.
Mark Saxenmeyer can be reached at email@example.com