May 31, 2011 |

Veterans remembered at G.F. retreat center

Veterans raise the flag at the new Healing Hearts in Hope Veterans Retreat Center off of Mountian Loop Highway.

Healing Hearts in Hope Veterans Retreat Center (HHH VRC) opened its doors on Saturday, May 21, which was Armed Forces Day, to local dignitaries, community members and most importantly to military personnel, both past and present.

Veterans, their families, and the public were able to take a tour of the 17-acre retreat center, which is nestled near the base of Mount Pilchuck at 28902 Mountain Loop Hwy, Granite Falls, Wash.

The vision and inspiration for HHH VRC is dedicated to the memory of William L. Baird, the husband of Teresa “Flying Eagle” Baird, who donated the land. Bill Baird served during the Vietnam War, yet took his own life as a result of delayed stress years after his service.

“This beautiful, naturally balanced forest is a way to give my heart, our hearts to our veterans. They are a core of our country, the heart of our country,” said Baird. “But what becomes of our veterans? What happens to their families? I want veterans who are experiencing emotional war wounds to contact our center. In my advocacy, I’ve learned the more you help others, the more you help yourself. It’s beautiful to watch others use this concept and heal. I’ve seen it and it is beautiful.”

As a quadriplegic, Teresa “Flying Eagle” Baird has accomplished more than she ever thought possible when, in 1987, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. From her home in Granite Falls, she has raised four of her six children on her own, following the tragic death of her husband, a Vietnam veteran.

The grand opening event boasted speakers like Mike Gregoire, the governor’s husband and a Vietnam vet himself; Raymond Miller, HHH VRC Council Member and Baird.

“This is so touching and so incredible,” Gregoire said. “I am touched to be here as a veteran. Thank you so much from the state.”

Miller, who retired from the United States Air Force after 21 years of service, served as the Master of Ceremonies throughout the event. He is a clinical therapist who specializes in combat-related umatic stress disorder.

Baird shared her story with the crowd and told of how the land has helped in her life.

“The mountain has been good to me,” she said. “It has helped me heal from this tragedy.”

The center has a sweat lodge and hosts Women’s and Men’s Talking Circles. Their main focus is resourcing healing modalities.

Trusted professionals and vets are invited to share their knowledge in regards to soldiers’ hearts, and the many facets of war that linger while service members overcome the conflicts that arise as the journey to healing unfolds.

“We now have a place where veterans can come to heal from the wounds,” Willie Hughes, Commander of Post 1561 said.

The vision for HHH VRC is “for healing our veterans, protecting the land which heals, and thanking service people for their sacrifices.”

For more information about HHH VRC, its Council members, and offerings, go to hhh-vrc.host-ed.net.

Her MS has not kept Teresa from creating change throughout Snohomish County for more than 16 years as she continues to raise awareness about accessibility and public transportation. She demanded that issues not only be raised, but also, resolved. Among her many recognitions, Teresa was inducted into the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Volunteer Hall of Fame in 2005 for her (then) more than 10 years of advocacy efforts.

Teresa also was instrumental in the formation of the Greater Washington MS Chapter’s first Government Relations Committee, a volunteer group that helps the chapter prioritize and track legislation on MS issues, as well as develop positions and lobbying strategies.

A writer, too, Teresa has self-published several fables, all of them with themes of overcoming adversity.

The name “Flying Eagle” did not arise from Teresa’s ethnic heritage, which is a combination of Cree, Chippewa and Caucasian. But, rather, she took on this middle name, Flying Eagle, after skydiving (replete in an outfit of an American flag) --- not once, but twice --- in an effort to celebrate life and to show how limitless is the life of person with disabilities. For photos of the tandem jump, go to: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/ABPub/zoom/html/2004152285.html

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