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Engineers from Kentucky Air Guard help build retreat center for veterans

An Airman from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Civil Engineer Squadron gets hands-on-training while helping improve infrastructure at the Active Heroes Retreat Center for veterans in Shelbyville, Ky., Nov. 14, 2020. The Airman and dozens of others were wrapping up six months of effort at the facility, whose mission is to reduce veteran suicides. The engineers conducted grading and drainage work, repaired generators, installed fencing and performed carpentry work at the site’s 6,000-square-foot pavilion, among other tasks. The project was part of a cooperative effort between the Department of Defense and Active Heroes. (U.S. Air National Guard photos by Dale Greer)

An Airman from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Civil Engineer Squadron gets hands-on-training while helping improve infrastructure at the Active Heroes Retreat Center for veterans in Shelbyville, Ky., Nov. 14, 2020. The Airman and dozens of others were wrapping up six months of effort at the facility, whose mission is to reduce veteran suicides. The engineers conducted grading and drainage work, repaired generators, installed fencing and performed carpentry work at the site’s 6,000-square-foot pavilion, among other tasks. The project was part of a cooperative effort between the Department of Defense and Active Heroes. (U.S. Air National Guard photos by Dale Greer)

An Airman from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Civil Engineer Squadron gets hands-on-training while helping improve infrastructure at the Active Heroes Retreat Center for veterans in Shelbyville, Ky., Nov. 14, 2020. The Airman and dozens of others were wrapping up six months of effort at the facility, whose mission is to reduce veteran suicides. The engineers conducted grading and drainage work, repaired generators, installed fencing and performed carpentry work at the site’s 6,000-square-foot pavilion, among other tasks. The project was part of a cooperative effort between the Department of Defense and Active Heroes. (U.S. Air National Guard photos by Dale Greer)

An Airman from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Civil Engineer Squadron gets hands-on-training while helping improve infrastructure at the Active Heroes Retreat Center for veterans in Shelbyville, Ky., Nov. 14, 2020. The Airman and dozens of others were wrapping up six months of effort at the facility, whose mission is to reduce veteran suicides. The engineers conducted grading and drainage work, repaired generators, installed fencing and performed carpentry work at the site’s 6,000-square-foot pavilion, among other tasks. The project was part of a cooperative effort between the Department of Defense and Active Heroes. (U.S. Air National Guard photos by Dale Greer)

An Airman from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Civil Engineer Squadron gets hands-on-training while helping improve infrastructure at the Active Heroes Retreat Center for veterans in Shelbyville, Ky., Nov. 14, 2020. The Airman and dozens of others were wrapping up six months of effort at the facility, whose mission is to reduce veteran suicides. The engineers conducted grading and drainage work, repaired generators, installed fencing and performed carpentry work at the site’s 6,000-square-foot pavilion, among other tasks. The project was part of a cooperative effort between the Department of Defense and Active Heroes. (U.S. Air National Guard photos by Dale Greer)

An Airman from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Civil Engineer Squadron gets hands-on-training while helping improve infrastructure at the Active Heroes Retreat Center for veterans in Shelbyville, Ky., Nov. 14, 2020. The Airman and dozens of others were wrapping up six months of effort at the facility, whose mission is to reduce veteran suicides. The engineers conducted grading and drainage work, repaired generators, installed fencing and performed carpentry work at the site’s 6,000-square-foot pavilion, among other tasks. The project was part of a cooperative effort between the Department of Defense and Active Heroes. (U.S. Air National Guard photos by Dale Greer)

An Airman from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Civil Engineer Squadron gets hands-on-training while helping improve infrastructure at the Active Heroes Retreat Center for veterans in Shelbyville, Ky., Nov. 14, 2020. The Airman and dozens of others were wrapping up six months of effort at the facility, whose mission is to reduce veteran suicides. The engineers conducted grading and drainage work, repaired generators, installed fencing and performed carpentry work at the site’s 6,000-square-foot pavilion, among other tasks. The project was part of a cooperative effort between the Department of Defense and Active Heroes. (U.S. Air National Guard photos by Dale Greer)

An Airman from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Civil Engineer Squadron gets hands-on-training while helping improve infrastructure at the Active Heroes Retreat Center for veterans in Shelbyville, Ky., Nov. 14, 2020. The Airman and dozens of others were wrapping up six months of effort at the facility, whose mission is to reduce veteran suicides. The engineers conducted grading and drainage work, repaired generators, installed fencing and performed carpentry work at the site’s 6,000-square-foot pavilion, among other tasks. The project was part of a cooperative effort between the Department of Defense and Active Heroes. (U.S. Air National Guard photos by Dale Greer)

Airmen from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Civil Engineer Squadron get hands-on-training while helping improve infrastructure at the Active Heroes Retreat Center for veterans in Shelbyville, Ky., Nov. 14, 2020. The Airmen were wrapping up six months of effort at the facility, whose mission is to reduce veteran suicides. The engineers conducted grading and drainage work, repaired generators, installed fencing and performed carpentry work at the site’s 6,000-square-foot pavilion, among other tasks. The project was part of a cooperative effort between the Department of Defense and Active Heroes. (U.S. Air National Guard photos by Dale Greer)

Airmen from the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Civil Engineer Squadron get hands-on-training while helping improve infrastructure at the Active Heroes Retreat Center for veterans in Shelbyville, Ky., Nov. 14, 2020. The Airmen were wrapping up six months of effort at the facility, whose mission is to reduce veteran suicides. The engineers conducted grading and drainage work, repaired generators, installed fencing and performed carpentry work at the site’s 6,000-square-foot pavilion, among other tasks. The project was part of a cooperative effort between the Department of Defense and Active Heroes. (U.S. Air National Guard photos by Dale Greer)

SHEPHERDSVILLE, Ky. -- Dozens of civil engineers from the Kentucky Air National Guard recently completed six months of construction work helping build a retreat center for veterans here.

The Airmen, all from the Louisville-based 123rd Civil Engineer Squadron, built fences, graded land, spread gravel, installed cabinets, repaired generators and performed a variety of carpentry tasks, said Senior Master Sgt. Dana Randolph, the unit’s operations superintendent.

The work was approved through a Defense Department program that allows military units to assist veteran non-profits while gaining essential skills through field training.

“This was a great training event for our Airmen, who had the opportunity to perform a variety of tasks they would otherwise never experience on a normal drill weekend,” Randolph said. “Meanwhile, a worthy organization received the benefits of those efforts, which ultimately will help veterans.”

The Active Heroes Retreat Center’s mission is to reduce veteran suicide by helping heal post-traumatic stress, said founder Troy Yocum. The 147-acre site features a 6,000 square-foot pavilion, a 7-acre petting zoo, cabins, hiking trails and archery range.

“The extraordinary work that the Air Guard completed will help thousands of military family members over the years,” Yocum said. “The event pavilion will serve as an indoor facility to host military weddings, training events, larger retreat events and more.

“The animal petting zoo is the most requested activity for military children and will be a great addition to our programming,” he added.

A 2017 study from the Department of Veterans Affairs found that 17 to 20 veterans commit suicide every day.

“That number is down from 22 a day because of non-profits like Active Heroes that provide healing activities like the retreat center,” Yocum said.

For more information on the center and veteran programs, visit ActiveHeroes.org.