Veterans in Washington County and the surrounding areas will soon be getting a new retreat as a ground breaking ceremony was held over the weekend for the English River Outfitters’ new veterans lodge.
Healing of English River Outfitters (HERO) founder, Chuck Geertz, said the organization began in Fall of 2008 and has grown from four members to more than 400 members. He said it began as a hunting trip for veterans and quickly turned into an organization set on helping other veterans.
The organization has developed life skills programs that focus on PTSD and suicide prevention. Through the programs, they have been able to assist more than 60 veterans who have considered suicide.
The new lodge the group broke ground for will be a 33-foot-by-52-foot structure that will serve the purpose of hosting programs, community events and veteran retreats. It is located at 2564 305th Street in Washington, a mile down the road from Sockum Ridge Park.
“It’s going to be absolutely beautiful,” Geertz said.
After dreaming about this moment for 11 years and finally seeing it come to fruition, Geertz said the moment almost felt surreal.
“There’s no words,” he said.
Geertz said the whole mission of HERO is to help veterans and connect veterans with others who understand their story. By having this new lodge, he said, they will be able to accomplish that goal much easier.
Having this organization in Washington is crucial to its success, he said, because there are people in the community and surrounding communities who need the services they offer.
“There are so many veterans right here in the Washington area who were combat engineers and they have been hit the most with IEDs (improvised explosive devices) and psychological issues, that Washington seemed to be the hub for it,” he said. “It’s just something that was meant to be.”