A new safe haven for first responders and military veterans will soon be open in Ashcroft, B.C., to provide critical mental health support and services to the community at large.
Honour Ranch will hold a ceremonial launch on Oct. 5 ahead of its official launch next year.
“We’ll start treatment in early 2020,” said honourary colonel Allan De Genova, also the president and founder of Honour House Society. “The main lodge is ready and we’ll be working towards another 10 cottages.”
Until then, clinical psychologists, psychiatrists and various professionals will continue to set up programs for those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental illnesses.
De Genova said he was inspired to start the ranch by his friend, veteran Joseph Allina, who completed three tours in Afghanistan but committed suicide last July. Allina’s partner, a Surrey RCMP officer, will be there for the launch on Oct. 5.
“If I would have had Honour Ranch up and running, I would have saved Joe,” he said. “I feel bad about that and so Joe is truly my inspiration behind getting this ranch up and running. I think about him every day and I’ve been pushing to get here.”
During a ceremony the week prior, he said a local RCMP officer approached him and described how desperately he needs the facility to open.
“He said ‘I will be there.” I couldn’t believe it,” De Genova said, feeling more inspired than ever to continue his mission to help other veterans and first responders recover and thrive.
He said he sympathized with Ashcroft and Cache Creek residents’ recent adversities, including wildfires, floods, mudslides, and even losing a fire chief.
“I can see it and feel it, like all of you, and I think this ranch will really help the greater community and all of British Columbia,” he said. “All of our first responders and military are a family and we need to look after them because they’re there to look after you virtually every day, 24/7.”
Honour House opened in 2011 in New Westminster, offering free lodging to first responders and armed forces members who required medical treatment and care. Honour Ranch itself sits on a 120-acre property south of Ashcroft.