Man builds lodge for veterans battling PTSD

The sounds of the battlefield are often triggers for the post-traumatic stress disorder that veterans bring back home...

Posted: Mar 12, 2018 4:41 PM
Updated: Mar 12, 2018 4:41 PM

The sounds of the battlefield are often triggers for the post-traumatic stress disorder that veterans bring back home after their service.

A Kansas City man, who isn't a veteran himself, wants to provide a place for veterans struggling to escape that burden – at least for a little while.

At Hickory Hills Veterans Lodge, it gets pretty loud. Veterans are welcome to bring their own firearms and shoot with their fellow warriors.

Sometimes, combating PTSD isn't a quiet thing.

"If I'm out here somewhere, and I hear a door slam behind me, or a firecracker, I will jump," said Vietnam veteran Chuck Bradbury. "Here, I know what's going on."

"I feel safer with a bunch of vets with guns on the back of a tailgate, than I would at a public range, that I don't know anything about their training," said Chris Wolfenbarger, a veteran who worked as a combat medic in Afghanistan.

But Hickory Hills Veterans Lodge is more than just a makeshift shooting range.

"I worked a year and two months building this," said Orin Jackson, who founded the lodge. "Everything had to be trucked up from KC."

Jackson spent decades as a builder in Kansas City and wanted to use that experience to build this place, mostly with the help of just a few people, to be whatever these vets need it to be.

"We have all the handicap access grab bars for the veterans who need it," Jackson said. "I had over 40 companies that donated the materials to build this center."

He invites veterans, free of charge, to this remote spot in northern Missouri. Specifically, he invites them to a small table in the center of the main room.

"Ever been in a car trying to get on the highway, and your car won't get in the right gear, and it's just shaking? That shaking is your family dealing with your PTSD, because you can't shift into the right gear," said Wolfenbarger.

Away from the city and from their families, talking gets easier gathered around that table.

"Vietnam came back in my 60s," Bradbury said. "I had it bottled up for over 40 years, never said anything."

"I'm screwed up, and it's OK to be screwed up in our little clique," said Donald Ballard, a Congressional Medal of Honor winner and supporter of Hickory Hills.

"Every once in a while, you can strike up a conversation, or pick up an old one," said Dan Kellogg, a Desert Storm veteran. "It just gives you something else to focus on."

They talk while they fish, or while they shoot, and when they go home, their loved ones can feel a difference.

"The phone calls that are most meaningful is when the wife calls and says 'You just gave me my husband back,'" Wolfenbarger said.

In the background of all of these moments, you'll find Jackson, often with a big smile on his face, clearly proud that he has a way to say thank you.

"I asked myself what I could do, and this is what I came up with," Jackson said. "It's very fulfilling for me to do what I do."

Any veteran in the Kansas City area is welcome to visit Hickory Hills Veterans Lodge. For more information on how to do that, or how to donate to the lodge, visit the lodge's website.

West Lafayette
Partly Cloudy
70° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 70°
Kokomo
Partly Cloudy
75° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 75°
Rensselaer
Mostly Cloudy
72° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 72°
Fowler
Mostly Cloudy
70° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 70°
Williamsport
Mostly Cloudy
65° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 65°
Crawfordsville
Mostly Cloudy
70° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 70°
Frankfort
Mostly Cloudy
70° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 70°
Delphi
Partly Cloudy
74° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 74°
Monticello
Partly Cloudy
73° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 73°
Logansport
Partly Cloudy
72° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 72°
Comfortable weekend with a few spotty showers & t'showers...
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 771299

Reported Deaths: 14005
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1059471808
Lake570611031
Allen43193700
Hamilton37458426
St. Joseph37420568
Elkhart29819471
Tippecanoe23584231
Vanderburgh23431405
Porter19616327
Johnson18899394
Hendricks18168323
Clark13623199
Madison13604348
Vigo12908256
Monroe12626178
LaPorte12594225
Delaware11183198
Howard10747237
Kosciusko9810124
Hancock8799150
Bartholomew8296157
Warrick8150157
Floyd8072183
Grant7397181
Wayne7254201
Boone7236105
Morgan6948143
Marshall6358117
Dubois6301118
Cass6110112
Dearborn604078
Noble603590
Henry5971111
Jackson518677
Shelby512898
Lawrence4961127
Gibson467296
Montgomery461392
Clinton458455
DeKalb458485
Harrison456977
Huntington421382
Whitley418645
Steuben412861
Miami407273
Jasper402556
Knox393191
Putnam386862
Wabash371684
Adams355356
Ripley352771
Jefferson347187
White340954
Daviess3098100
Wells304881
Greene295985
Decatur293493
Fayette287464
Posey285435
Scott283458
LaGrange278472
Clay276049
Washington255637
Randolph248283
Jennings240449
Spencer239731
Fountain237250
Starke230859
Owen224759
Sullivan222943
Fulton209545
Jay203432
Carroll198822
Orange192756
Perry191939
Vermillion181944
Rush178627
Tipton173848
Franklin173035
Parke156816
Pike143434
Blackford138232
Pulaski124048
Newton123736
Benton110515
Brown106443
Crawford106316
Martin92715
Warren88015
Switzerland8488
Union73710
Ohio58411
Unassigned0429

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events