Eagle’s Healing Nest Getting Veterans Outdoors

Category: article

 Jul 23rd, 2021 by Keith Worrall 

Modified Jul 23rd, 2021 at 9:57 AM

Each year, Lake of the Woods Tourism along with a handful of participating resorts host a veteran’s event called Pay It Forward. In a nutshell, around 50 veterans are treated to a three night, two day fishing trip with lodging, meals, guest speakers, etc. The event started back in 2003 and it’s mission is to honor, recognize and celebrate all veterans. After six years, there are a good number of alumni who have experienced the magic of this event. That’s how we were recently connected with Eagle’s Healing Nest.

One of our Pay It Forward alumni, Tom Wilkinson, reached out to make us aware of veteran’s organization in central Minnesota who has started a new outdoor adventures segment to their program with the thought of synergy between the two programs. In Tom’s words, “I knew we needed to start an outdoor adventure segment for veterans. As a veteran myself, I know first hand how getting out fishing, hunting, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, etc can be life changing.” “I spoke with Mel about my ideas and the rest is history.”

Eagle’s Healing Nest is located in Sauk Centre, MN. It’s mission is to provide assistance with the healing of the invisible wounds of war carried by our service men and women… past, present, and future. After visiting it’s campus and discussing it’s goals and programs with Founder and Executive Director, Mel Butler, there are certainly connections between the programs and both value getting in the great outdoors.

The vision of the organization to never have those who served in our military to live in darkness, but to bring them into the light to soar and fly free. To help restore the honor, dignity, pride and purpose each deserves. With that being said, many veterans are struggling and need programs with a caring hand to assist them. Eagle’s Healing Nest helps to foster purpose and direction.

The program offers board and lodging with special services to veterans, military and their families to prevent homelessness in some cases and to give veterans the help they need to get back on their feet in others. The setting of the lodging and program is amongst a peaceful and beautiful 124 acres in a rural setting. There are more than 12 buildings on this campus. The rural setting with lots of space just feels peaceful, exactly what many need to begin healing.

Along with a setting that fosters healing and happiness, there are a variety of services and programs to assist veterans and their families. Licensed therapists trained in a number of areas are available right on site. In addition, there are many activities available such as an art studio to learn how to paint, a studio to create polished gem stones, welding, wood shop, fly tying, a full gym and even a daycare for those with young children. On top of that, there are a variety of animals used as resources in many ways such as horses, chickens, goats, and peacocks.

The Eagle’s Healing Nest’s founder and Executive Director is Melony Butler. Mel comes from a military family and has a deep passion for helping veterans. Her mission is to help veterans any way she can despite obstacles such as red tape, bureaucracies, slow moving programs, etc.

While staying or living at the Eagle’s Healing Nest, veterans enjoy single residence lodging, 3 meals per day and have full access to all programs. The cost is $35 per day and is obviously heavily funded by donations, etc. Visitors and residents are on a sliding scale and pay what they can afford. Nobody who is in need is turned away.

The Pay It Forward program’s mission is to honor, recognize and celebrate all veterans. Different that what the Eagle’s Healing Nest does, but at the same time, very much about helping out veterans. We encourage veterans or perhaps loved ones who see a good fit with either program to reach out and apply.

To apply for the 2020 Pay It Forward veteran’s program up at Lake of the Woods, contact Joe Henry at [email protected] or by calling 320-260-7727.

To apply for or simply learn more about the Eagle’s Healing Nest, contact Mel Butler at [email protected] or at 320-351-6200.

Getting veterans into out in the great outdoors is a wonderful and healing experience. We extend our thanks and gratitude to all programs who benefit veterans in any way. We also want to say a big “Thank You” to all veterans and all who protect and serve.


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