Plans to build and operate the first-of-its-kind Veterans Restorative Care Center (VRCC) at Hot Lake Springs near La Grande received a strong boost from the federal government in the form of a $30,000 grant from USDA Rural Development. When complete, the center will provide counseling, medical services, education, and career training to both veterans and the La Grande community at large. The nonprofit Warrior Bonfire Program (WBP) will use the grant from USDA to develop a business plan for the strategic development of this $42 million project.

The VRCC’s business plan will incorporate the interests of the Warrior Bonfire Program; the acumen of the oldest accredited naturopathic medical university in North America, the National University of Natural Medicine; and the business know-how of the for-profit company Dyne Aquaculture with the goal of making the new facility largely self-funded in perpetuity. The three partners are benefited by the expertise and experience of David and Lee Manuel, who have operated Hot Lake Springs for the past 15 years.

“The Warrior Bonfire Program is thankful to USDA for believing in this project. While the project is in the early planning and design phases, the VRCC’s ultimate vision is to offer a complete solution for veterans and their families to heal, while also bringing a significant number of jobs to the local community.” – Mike Foss, President of the Warrior Bonfire Program

The VRCC’s goal is to be the leading provider of naturopathic and Chinese medicine treatments; as well as education, vocational training, mental health, diet, team building, and recreational therapy for veterans and their families. This facility will also be home to the La Grande community as the hydroponics and aquaculture facilities plan to provide 110 new jobs.

The project is eligible for a vast array of funding sources (grants, loans, tax credits, etc.) due to its nonprofit status. In order to be successful in receiving foundation and government support, the project is applying to grant programs, in addition to conducting many fundraising efforts.

It is estimated that every day in America, 22 veterans commit suicide, with another 75 unsuccessfully attempting to take their lives. In total, well over 125,000 American veterans have taken their own lives since the year 2000—nearly twice the number killed in action in Vietnam. The VRCC seeks to build and provide a better solution for our veterans and their families, that they need and deserve.