Veterans’ Outreach is a nonprofit charitable organization based out of Liberty Township, Youngstown Ohio that serves veterans in need. Our mission is to “help veterans with a hand up, not a handout!” Veterans’ Outreach is setting the stage to be able to do that in a big way through the development of Heroes’ Passage!
The project is to be located on 110 acres in Elliot and Carter Counties of Kentucky donated by Roger Hanshaw of Olive Hill. The property is akin to a bowl, so when you are in the middle of it, you are comforted by the ridges around. The lay of the land is a big part of how this project came to life. A retreat for Veterans, where they can go and get their lives restored from the impact of war, drugs, alcohol, PTSD, or TBI. I have personally witnessed tragic changes in my family with my father, brother, and now my son…a very big part of me knows that this will be the most crucial part of our charity’s MISSION.
Thinking about how we could help vets more than we already are, with a chance to get their lives back again, I came up with the idea of getting back to basics. I think of it as Basic Training 2, but it encompasses all aspects of a soldier’s personhood – their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being, to help them to live and learn to deal with the past debilitating ravages and experience of war. What causes a service member to take their own lives? There are 20+ a day that does this and that is their only perceived way out of their torture. Heroes’ Passage could be the answer to not only reconstructing lives but saving them.
Foremost, is to remove the encumbered soldier out of their neighborhood where they find themselves in a downward spiral. A place that is remote but not threatening is the key. The property is ideal to work with each individual and shy away from any mold for every participant since we all have different needs…weaknesses/strengths.
Plans include the main building called the C.O.R.E (Council, Offices, Recreation, and Eatery), Farm (with Live Stock, Agriculture, and Agriculture applications), Equine Therapy Stable, Iron Man Courses…for able and disabled, a Church, Tribute Gardens, and 60 individual cabins. Additional support buildings could be added as needed. Residents will participate in the work of the development as much as they are able – a team working together for common goals – akin to the working relationships that have helped make our organization stable and successful. Too much sitting around and thinking can be counterproductive. Physical activity will help them to feel as if they belong there and to develop satisfaction from the simple things of life, then build from there.
Progress and Update: The survey and drone photography is complete. Now the architectural development is underway. It is the next crucial component, by the firm of Gilmore Designs from Cortland, Ohio. Bart Gilmore and Son Foster drove down to visit Veterans’ Outreach in Grayson, Kentucky.
From there they drove to Olive Hill and encountered the lay of the land.
Roger, Brandon Clark (KY Regional Manager) and I met up with them. A 4 x 4 truck and a small old foreign make of a vehicle made the treacherous trek. The trail amounted to nothing less than a forgotten myriad of hazards including downed trees, jagged rocks, deep muddy ditches, thorny overgrowth, and just an exhilarating ride into the unknown! We were thinking if we would be able to call in AAA if we had a problem? We found out, though, while we were at the bottom that our cell phone service was not available. So some praying was in order!
For starters, the roads need to be put in and around the property for developers to come and go as they are summoned. That will be the first physical development. The character of the land, both represents Kentucky’s biodiversity and geologic variations. It is challenging, but Bart Gilmore was more than intrigued. “It is just beautiful, and it is just very challenging but invigorating to be handed something like this to put together such a marvelous and worthwhile program to help our veterans in need,” Mr. Gilmore exclaimed. “We just looked about everywhere on the property and couldn’t see any ugly”!
Roger was so excited and said with a sigh, “I am so relieved and glad to see that finally there is some movement on the development of Heroes’ Passage. We got to keep on the move with Heroes’ Passage. Whatever it takes to make this dream a reality! Every day’s development of this property and the promise and potential it holds, is like Christmas to me,” Roger finished.
I was totally impressed with the way that the architect was popping along on the terrain, like a young teenager on his first visit to Disney World.
I see it evolving into an energy filled the beautiful Shire, like no other. You always hear about places that you can go for healings like those energy grids, sacred springs, and to ancient mountains. There are places all over the world that act as healing meccas and this retreat will be like no other.
As they continued their recon, Gilmore shouted, “Over here the lake can go and next over there, close by, is a great area for the farm to be rebuilt”. Then he further elaborated “then this space could be where the Tribute Gardens could go and the Chapel next to that development.”
This is the third phase or third chapter of this event on developing such an amazing conceptual. This architectural PHASE is a labyrinth of discovery and findings, a gestated hypothesis from a mature experience and those personal gut feelings.
Gilmore offered to help with components for further development including other architectural firms, engineers, agencies, biologists, and geologists.
The project is not being hastened or rushed. There needs to be thought and design to best fit the mission in healing brave men and women that served our country. Heroes’ Passage will offer them the best chance to reconstitute their lives. This project could be the answer to help thousands of hurting veterans, specifically, the post 911 service men and women. They volunteered their time and lives and now we need to make sure that they move forward, with interest!
I believe it’s OK to take one small step at a time as long as it’s in the right direction!