It's Not a Hand out, It's a Hand Up
Melony Butler is the Director Of Eagles Healing Nest, over 124 acres in Sauk Centre with over 24 buildings on-site for veterans from all over the county to heal. Melony says, “we don’t tell them how long they can be here, and when they come here, this is home. When they’re here, they can function and be part of a community again.”
The Nest receives support from many organizations, including Saluting Community Heroes, American Legion Riders, and VFWs. Locally, support from the community, churches, and of course, Minnesota Masonic Charities and Minnesota Masons. Since 2018 Minnesota Masonic Charities have donated over $210,000 to the Eagles Healing Nest. This collective support helps these veterans receive the care, love, and security they need to recover. Opening in 2012 under the promise of home, hope, and healing with honor, today, over 100 veterans are living on campus. They are about to open Lady Liberty, another residence on the campus, which will house another 20 women, in addition to the plans for tiny homes at the edge of the property. There is a mental health clinician on site and also an addiction counselor.
Addiction is usually a secondary issue when you’re a veteran, it’s the mental health struggles that come first. “There’s no timeline to recovery here like at the VA and in other places. You recover on your own time and in your way, which is amazing.” Thomas Snell says that in the two years he’s been at the nest, he has made remarkable progress and hopes to stay in a more permanent role helping the Vets at the Nest.
Men, women, and children are welcome with the hope of keeping families together, despite some of the struggles they may be sharing. There is the main dining hall where they serve daily continental breakfast and enjoy house meals every Sunday.
Melony says Veterans have created programs that help each other based on what they need when recovering. “They also create peer-to-paper groups and help each other along in their recovery process. We have an art studio, music studio, welding studio, horses, Project Delta Service Dogs, and something called Welcome Home Bed to help those ready to soar the nest. Sometimes if the bonfire is lit, that just means someone is here, and they need someone to listen to them because someone is always up.”
Thousands of Veterans have come through their doors and become a part of the Eagles Nest family. When Veteran leaves, they call it soaring because they can always come back.
There are only two fundraisers each year that help provide necessary financial assistance. Nest Fest in August and the largest Easter Egg hunt; stay connected to their social media for information on each event for next year.
If you or someone you know is a veteran struggling with addiction or mental health concerns, Dial 988, press 1, chat live, or text 838255.