Eagle's Healing Nest veterans' community up and running
Helping military veterans heal from invisible wounds of war was a goal for several people from the Wadena area and other parts of central Minnesota when the former Sauk Centre Home School for Girls property was chosen and repurposed to be the sit...
Helping military veterans heal from invisible wounds of war was a goal for several people from the Wadena area and other parts of central Minnesota when the former Sauk Centre Home School for Girls property was chosen and repurposed to be the site of Eagle's Healing Nest.
Now, the therapeutic veterans' community is open and operational with veterans arriving both locally and from out of state.
"This is just our way of giving back to serve those who served," Chair/Director Melony Butler said. "It's their home, their place to heal with honor."
Eagle's Healing Nest was approved by the state health inspector at the beginning of September, had an open house Sept. 7 and early in the month began receiving boarders. Eagle's Healing Nest also receives local veterans who commute from home.
A Dedication Day for the military families is to be held Oct. 20, with buggy rides and covered wagon rides.
Eagle's Healing Nest is near U.S. Highway 71 in north Sauk Centre, and is currently leasing the property with the option to buy, as well as working with the current property owners.
The old "Sinclair Lewis Hall" building is now "Promises Made", and the old "Tekakwitha" building is now "Promises Kept".
"Promises Made" currently holds facilities including the administration center, nurse's office, chapel/community room, kitchen and dining area, and 14 rooms.
Treasurer/Administrator Rom Anderson of Wadena said the building appeared stark and beat up at first. When churches, honor riders, Blue Star Mothers and other groups pitched in with donations, painting and other work and contributions, they transformed the facility to give it an updated, homey look.
Each room is sponsored, and groups or individuals sponsoring rooms decorated them around unique themes and put in carpeting or rugs.
Butler said she expects the "Promises Made" building to be filled by Sunday, and rooms in the "Promises Kept" building would start to be filled shortly.
The more than 120-acre property also includes horses and staff licensed in equine therapy.
Anderson said equine therapy and other natural methods provide unique resources not available at VA facilities.
He also said they have received positive feedback from the veterans.
Eagle's Healing Nest is for veterans of any war who have a need, and they do not have to have any official diagnosis, Anderson said. Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be diagnosed many years after the fact, for example.
The mission of Eagle's Healing Nest is close to home for Anderson and Butler, who are both parents of veterans.
Before the facility came to fruition, Butler had the name "Eagle's Nest" in mind. When organizers were in early stages of the project, an eagle happened to make its nest on the Home School for Girls site. The post with the nest still stands on the property.
Other staff at Eagle's Healing Nest said being part of the organization fulfills a dream.
Accountant Dorothy Sills lost her son, Johnny, to PTSD three years ago. Both wanted to do something to help veterans, and it was after losing Johnny that Sills said she was introduced to Butler, and is now fulfilling that wish.
"We're going full steam ahead," she said.
Sills said it was important to help veterans and not lose them to invisible wounds of war.
Carla Leehy and Pam Hyatt, from Bertha and Wadena respectively, are two area employees at Eagle's Healing Nest.
Leehy, a nurse, said it was a dream of theirs to help veterans, and when Butler asked them if they could work at the new Sauk Centre facility, they accepted.
"The part that I love the most is healing them," Leehy said. "It's a place where they can heal with dignity and honor."
Butler said Eagle's Healing Nest does not turn any veteran away due to costs. While some pay for themselves or receive prior funding, those who can't are still taken in.
"I'm pleased to say that our veterans have found employment, reconnected, enrolled in school, and they have hope in their eyes again," Butler said.
Eagle's Healing Nest accepts donations online at its website, www.eagleshealingnest.com .
The organization, which is in the process of getting its official nonprofit designation, also accepts clean and washed donations of clothing and other household goods.