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HACIENDA CABALLO – There were salutes all ‘round today (Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016) as a facility for veterans and first responders suffering from PTSD was officially opened.
Honour Ranch, located on the beautiful Hacienda Caballo property just up Highway 5 from Heffley Creek, will be a refuge for those suffering from trauma associated with their service.
Hacienda Caballo is better known as the long-time home of the Kamloops Mounted Patrol, founded by Rick and Donna Wanless. But when Wanless suffered a bad horse-involved accident several years ago that required fast action from paramedics, he got to thinking about putting Hacienda Caballo to use in a way that would pay back first responders and others who put their lives on the line in public service.
The answer came via the Honour House Society, which trains first responders. Honour Ranch goes a step further with the planned respite program for those who “have given so much to us all,” as Wanless put it today.
Among the 150 people attending today were representatives of military, fire departments, ambulance paramedics and other agencies, along with politicians and supporters.
“This serene setting is magical,” said Allan De Genova, an honorary lieutenant-colonel and president of Honour House Society.
It will be a “home away from home” for those who need it, he said. “So many drown silently before they can even be diagnosed. We are profoundly humbled by their faith in us,” he said of the Wanlesses and their willingness to use their home for the facility.
As the ceremony took place, the resident horses trotted around the property, emphasizing the tranquility of the setting and the equine therapy that will be part of the convalescent program.
New Westminster Fire Chief Tim Armstrong, a director of the Honour House Society, challenged communities to fundraise and sponsor construction of cottages that will house those in the program starting next summer.
“We need to build a town right here on this property,” he said.
Among the other dignitaries attending were Linda Reid, Speaker of the Legislature; B.C. Health Minister Terry Lake; Brig. Gen Davour Courbould; and Col. David Awalt, Commander 39 Canadian Brigade Group. Ernie Mothus emceed and Sgt. Major Adam Webber was parade commander.
Letters of congratulations were send from federal Defence Minister Harji Sajjan and federal Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr.