In the 1950s and 60’s upper Midwest farm boys were plentiful and easy to find and identify. You knew them by their crew cuts and the local small-town high school athletic teams. Most of us had no idea we were almost all from low-income family farms. We assumed all boys had one pair of shoes for the farm work, barn chores, church, and school. Our 25 cents weekly allowance bought us a movie, popcorn, and “pop” in town. Our sacred possessions were our single shot 22’s and shotguns plus our cane poles. Dad’s wooded back 40, the neighbor’s 80, the secret duck ponds, and the river were our turf. Life was good!
Little did we know Uncle Sam would soon invite us to Vietnam. Many did not return or they returned with disabilities and/or emotional issues. The term “lottery” then involved more “chance” than today’s players might bargain for.
Fast forward to Iraq and Afghanistan and we find again many U.S. service volunteers who did not return or brought back “Purple Hearts”, and again some disabilities and emotional issues. Several of those returning veterans are now serving as Camp Victory volunteers and advisors.
This farm boy was fortunate enough to attend college and then become a U.S. Marine. I have been blessed with several of the ’40s and ’80s from my farm boy days. That land has now been consolidated into the 295-acre tract we call Camp Victory. I wrote one particular key landowner a letter for about 20 years asking him to sell me his land. He never replied. Kay and I prayed over our 2007 letter and he called inquiring, “Do you still want my land?” By selling other small parcels I put it all into one piece. We can now pass on these lands to assist our current military veterans, their families, and people with disabilities. These rural lands are uniquely fitted to provide more “boyhood balm” with activities like camping, hiking, hunting, fishing, discovering nature, solitude, and companionship. Life is still good! Camp Victory restores the boy in us all – campers and counselors alike. Camp Victory proves “it is better to give than to receive.”
We practice our diversity freely and have received more from our veterans going to foreign lands than we could ever repay, or ever fully comprehend their sacrifice for us.
Our new 501-c-3 is designed to facilitate the healing process using God’s creation as our doctor, nurse, and/or therapist. Each Memorial Day we dutifully notice the flags and white crosses. May those who freely gave their lives inspire us to now care for the wounded who returned and not forget those who gave all.
We acknowledge that the VA system is structured to administer to our veterans’ needs and genuinely tries to facilitate emotional healing. Many private entities such as “Focus Marines” and “Camp Hero” are better suited to address the emotional issues that our “world conflicts” precipitate for our veterans. We, like them (there are dozens more) need private funds to exercise and facilitate our giving back.
“Striving to actively help our veterans in need”
Henry Lamovec, Sr. “Dad” – Dad insisted all four of us kids attend college. Dad, already in his 80’s, also helped build and maintain roads for wheelchairs to benefit people with disabilities. Thank you!
Dale Petkovsek. Local disabled “Farm Boy”, “Giver”, and entrepreneur. My inspiration. Founded Rock Creek Disabled Outdoors. Dale could make $5 out of 50¢.