House in the Woods ‘busier than ever’

By Mike Lange
Staff Writer

    LEE — House in the Woods, a retreat for veterans and their families to help heal the physical and mental wounds of war, is having its busiest season ever, according to co-founder Paul House. “We’ve served 400 veterans and their families since we started in 2010,” House said. “We’ve made a lot of difference in people’s lives, and that’s very encouraging.”

BU-HouseInWoods-DCX-PO-36Contributed photo

    VETS’ BEAR HUNT — House in the Woods made arrangements for several vets to hunt bear at Upper Sysladobsis lake in Lakeville Plantation. Here’s one group enjoying their outing.

    House in the Woods was founded by two families who lost sons in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2007: Paul and Deanna House’s son, Joe; and Bill and Quie Emery’s son, Blair. The two soldiers died from combat-related wounds six months apart.
    Although the Houses live in Lee, the program takes place statewide thanks to the generosity of sports outfitters, lodging and camp owners and other businesses. “We just met with some folks from Cole Land Transportation Museum, and they’re interested in helping us out,” said House.
    Museum founder Galen Cole, a World War II veteran, is best known for distributing more than 7,000 commemorative maple walking sticks to former service members.
    There was also a good turnout of 36 teams at a fund-raising golf tournament in Litchfield earlier this year, and a benefit motorcycle ride is set for Saturday, Sept. 6 starting at the American Legion hall in Millinocket.
    House in the Woods is winding down a bear hunt this week as well as a special moose hunt in Aroostook County.
    The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife sets aside a certain number of moose permits each year for disabled veterans, and House in the Woods was awarded 25 this season. “This was huge for us,” said House. “We’re hunting near the broccoli fields in The County, so it not only helps us but the farmers, too.”
    Also this year, House in the Woods had a turkey hunt in the Newport-Corinna area, a fishing trip to Oswego, N.Y. where three charters were donated and an overnight excursion in Bath where the Hampton Inn donated four rooms and a local church invited the group to a complimentary dinner.
    When deer season arrives on the calendar, House in the Woods will take a hunting party to the Harmony area and a second bird hunt will take place in October in the Lee area. “George and Terry Gallagher have a camp on Upper Sysladobsis Lake in Lakeview Plantation, and they’ve been very generous. We’ve used it a lot,” House said.
    House in the Woods also hosts lobster dinners at times, thanks to veteran Larry McManus of Addison who donates the tasty crustaceans.
    While hunting and fishing are prime attractions at House in the Woods, there are also opportunities for other activities. For example, they hosted two military families, both with two children, from Fort Drum, N.Y. recently, House said. “One just got back from a tour in Afghanistan and the other one is ready to deploy,” he said. “They had a wonderful time. Sometimes people want to hunt and fish. Others just want to go to a remote campsite and wind down, so we’re planning more family-recreation activities in the future.”
    A tribute dinner is also on the fall calendar where Col. Peter Ogden will present certificates of appreciation from the Maine Department of Veterans’ Service to every former service member who attends.
    For more information about the program, visit www.houseinthewoods.org or House in the Woods Military and Family Retreat on Facebook.

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