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A Marriage Made in Heaven

By John Bickel

Vol. 4, 2016-2017


Recently Knights Council #12153 in McKinney, TX joined forces with the Warrior Bonfire Program, a 501 (c) 3 dedicated to serving our Veterans, to tackle a silent epidemic that is plaguing our Nation. This epidemic touches at least two tenets of the Knights of Columbus ethos, those being Pro-Life and Patriotism. This epidemic presents us with the following statistics:

  • 22 of our Nation’s Veterans, on average, commit suicide each day
  • 75 more attempt suicide each day
  • Since 9/11, we have lost over 125,000 Veterans to suicide which is more than twice the number killed in war from Vietnam forward to today

We, as Knights and as a Nation, must do something to restore hope to these men and women and their families. This human tragedy is what we began to tackle at Council #12153 and hope to expand across the State and Nation with your help.

The Project we have chosen to support is called the Veterans Restorative Care Center (VRCC) www.veteransrcc.org which will be situated in La Grande, OR on an historic site that includes a 100,000-sf building capable of housing a medical facility and up to 50 rooms for Veterans and their families and a hot lake that provides 3 million gallons of hot, therapeutic water per day. When repurposing is complete, this facility is projected to be able to serve 1,000 Veterans and their families each year.

This Project is the result of a vision shared by three groups and combines their individual successes achieved through the realm of more natural healing:

Warrior Bonfire Program who for years has taken small groups of Purple Heart recipients into the outdoors (Recreational Therapy) where the healing power of nature and the bond of brotherhood has been used to help heal their hearts and minds.

Hot Lake Springs, a restored medical facility once considered the Mayo Clinic of the West and known as a place of healing for over a millennium, and

National University of Natural Medicine, the premier naturopathic Medical University in the United States

In order to launch this Project, $12 M in funding is needed. This is where Council 12153 stepped in. Overwhelmingly and enthusiastically, the Knights of 12153, its leaders PGK David Harmon and GK George Balsam, and our Chaplain and pastor, Father Don Zeiler, agreed and volunteered to be the pilot for a program that can help expedite the re purposing of the building and the healing of at-risk Veterans. This project was named CANpaign 22 to help us remember those 22 Veterans who take their lives each day. The project involved distributing collection cans to willing parishioners at St. Gabriel’s in McKinney, TX wherein they would place their spare change, bills, and checks to support the effort to eliminate Veterans’ suicides. The Knights coordinated the program and have collected over $16,000 for the VRCC.

Council 12153 plans to make this an annual event at St. Gabriel’s and wants to see the program expand across the Dallas Diocese, the state of Texas, and the Nation. By joining forces, the Knights can help heal Veterans by restoring them to, once again, being a whole and productive person as we help restore the HOPE that they have lost:

  • Hope that the pain will go away
  • Hope that they are not crazy
  • Hope for physical, emotional, and spiritual healing
  • Hope for a future that is brighter than today
  • Hope for their families to be reunited

Council 12153 is dedicated to helping create a sustainable model of health and restorative care, a nonprofit Veterans Restorative Care Center[VRCC], led by veterans, supported by naturopathic physicians, and sustained by donations, grants, and profits from business. Together, and with your help, we will provide urgent, sustained and appropriate care and intervention to stop the crisis and restore the health, lives and families of our heroes.

If you are willing to join the effort, there are many ways to do so. You can:

  • Run CANpaign 22 in your Council and home parish (we can coach you through the process)
  • Take up a collection within your Council and donate the money through www.veteransrcc.org
  • Like and share us (the VRCC) on Facebook
  • Spread the word about this crisis and the need for a solution
  • Examine your network to see if there are people or groups that can be called upon to help
  • All of the above

For those willing to step up and help, please contact John Bickel, a member of Council 12153, at john.bickel@dyneaqua.com or at 978-853-9005.

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