By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterNovember 30, 2017
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- After two years of planning and preparation, Fort Rucker broke ground on a project to provide a place where wounded warriors can find an escape.
The installation held a groundbreaking ceremony Nov. 28 on East Beach at Lake Tholocco for the Wounded Warrior Retreat by The Lake, which will be a handicap-accessible cabin built specifically to cater to the needs of wounded warriors and their families, according to Conrad Stempel, Wiregrass Wounded Veterans Committee co-chairperson.
In an effort with the WWVC, the cabin has been funded entirely by donations by more than 50 clubs, churches, businesses and organizations, Stempel said.
"It's the strength and hard work of our member organizations and our volunteers who allow us the honor to build and donate to Fort Rucker the cabin that you have named the Wounded Warrior Retreat by the Lake," said Stempel during the groundbreaking ceremony. "The Wounded Warrior Retreat by the Lake honors the service and sacrifices made by our wounded and disabled veterans and their families. We thank all of you who are with us here today and we thank you for everything that you've done."
The three-bedroom, two-bathroom cabin will feature all of the amenities of the other cabins on the lake, including full furnishings, a full kitchen, televisions with satellite and DVD players and complimentary wireless high-speed internet access, but will also feature wider halls and doorways to make the cabin fully handicap accessible.
"The majority of the people who have worked on this project are retired or former military, so we are all tied to Fort Rucker," said the WWVC co-chair. "It means a lot to us because we've been there and our families have been there. It's very important that we recognize that we have wounded and disabled service people, but every one of those people has a family -- the intent is to try and help them."
William G. Kidd, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker deputy to the commanding general, was on hand during the ceremony to thank wounded warriors and their families for the sacrifices they've made throughout the years, as well as those involved in bringing the project to fruition.
"John F. Kennedy said, 'As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them," said the deputy to the commanding general. "Tremendous words, because it talks about us and the service that our wounded warriors have given us and the appreciation we have.
"We're going to start the journey of completing this cabin that will benefit our wounded warrior, and we need to get at that because this is a time for doing things and not talking," he said. "I want to thank our wounded warriors who were able to come here today. Thank you for your service and your sacrifice to our nation, and we hope that this facility, though it will never repay you for the sacrifices you've made, will at least give you an opportunity to at least enjoy some of the freedom and some of the things that you have given to us through your commitment and your sacrifice."
For Robert Green, Purple Heart recipient and commander of the Purple Heart Enterprise Chapter, the ceremony was a great way for the community to show its commitment to wounded veterans and their family members, which is something he said is needed.
"This means a lot for (the community) to recognize (wounded veterans)," said Green. "We went out and we gave, so it means a lot for them to keep going to support the wounded warriors."
Green, who was drafted into the Army and served in Vietnam, was wounded on his first day in the field, which also happened to be his 21st birthday. He said that when a Soldier is wounded in battle, it often extends beyond the physical wounds.
"If you've ever been wounded, it breaks your spirit -- that's the thing with a lot of these guys and ladies," he said. "They get wounded and their spirit gets broken. This right here will help their spirits a lot and let them know that somebody still supports them."
The cabin is slated for completion in six to eight months, said Stempel, and as with all of the equipment and amenities available to wounded warriors through Fort Rucker Outdoor Recreation, there will be no cost to wounded warriors and their families for use of the cabin.