While veterans spent their time serving the U.S., Wilwin Lodge in Mason County is spending their time serving veterans. From May until October, Wilwin Lodge is changing the lives of those who served, by offering a free retreat for U.S. veterans and their immediate families.
“Veterans need a place that they can go to and feel at ease, and get away from the rate race of living,” said Duane Miller, Wilwin Lodge Board Director.
The retreat helps veterans who struggle with PTSD, as well as other disabilities. It offers an array of activities including: hiking trails, canoeing, kayaking, a private lake, horseshoe, playgrounds, golf carts, and more.
“They will quite often comment about how Wilwin itself healed them or helped them,” said Todd Fessenden, Scout Master for Troop 1193. “A veteran posted that it was the first time he had actually slept.”
The camp is owned by the American Legion of Michigan. It’s completely free to the veterans, and all the money the retreat makes is by donation. Wilwin Lodge also serves as a space for scouts to go to, to explore nature, learn new things, and connect with the veterans.
“It gives the scouts an opportunity to actually work with the veterans in an area that’s more of a neutral ground,” said Fessenden. “Scouts need to understand that whether it’s an opportunity to meet a veteran, or be in the area where veterans are a part of something, there is a debt that’s been paid.”
Each time a new veteran visits Wiwin Lodge, they are gifted a quilt made by volunteers from all across the State, to remind them of their time spent at camp.
“It’s nice to see people talk to each other, communicate, find out about each other’s life or situation. You get away from everything while you’re here.”