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Golf event supports vets with PTSD

sober house, ptsd, veterans, bravo zulu house, minnesota
First of its kind sober house planned in southern Minnesota
By
Joni Hubred, News Editor

A farm in southern Minnesota will soon offer sober housing and jobs for veterans dealing with the dual challenge of chemical dependency and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).

Executive director Tim Murray said Bravo Zulu House is the first facility in the country to provide vets with help for both issues–even though the vast majority of those living with PTSD also have problems with drugs and/or alcohol.

“There are between 22 to 40 military suicides that occur every day,” he said. “PTSD and the lack of sobriety is the number one issue with treating veterans with PTSD.”

Roughly 12% of those who enter chemical dependency treatment each year are veterans, but “veterans do not make up 12% of the U.S. population,” he added. About 360,000 vets every year, 30,000 each month, are coming out of treatment, “and it’s been that way for years and years.”

Those who also grapple with PTSD are released, Murray said, “stark raving sober, with no place to go and no PTSD-track programs.”

It’s not surprising, then, that so many who have completed treatment end up homeless and using again or worse–end up among the 22 veterans each day who take their own lives.

Managed by Trinity Sober Homes, which has provided sober housing since 2011, the 1898 farmhouse on five acres near Winnebago has five bedrooms, with an 8-bedroom addition planned.

“We’re simply going to apply the core elements of the successful model at Trinity Sober Houses plus PTSD therapy,” Murray said. “Every man will be assigned a therapy dog. We’re working with Ava Tvedten and Paws for Cause (based in Blue Earth) to design and build a kennel and training.”

Bravo Zulu House will also maintain a hydroponic farming operation powered by solar panels, with some income coming from produce sales to stores and restaurants. There will be a few jobs for the veterans there, but each man must work or volunteer for at least 30 hours per week. Each is also responsible for paying $600 a month in rent and cooking their own food.

Murray knows the fight for sobriety firsthand; he credits his own to Col. Father Martin Fleming, a military veteran who used his Army pension to start the first sober house in St. Paul, which grew to three houses with 28 beds before his death in 2018.

“I went from being a financial services Wall Street guy to a full-time professional drunk, living in my car,” he said. “I showed up on Father’s doorstep on my 50th birthday, and Father and all the king’s men put this Humpty Dumpty back together again.”

Fleming tapped Murray to launch Trinity Sober Houses, which is tailored for men 40 and older who are leaving treatment. Planning for Bravo Zulu House, Murray said, began during COVID. So far, about half of the $1.2 million cost for building out the facility has been raised. A golf tournament slated June 10 at the Owatonna Country Club aims to help bridge the gap.

Registration starts at 11:30 a.m., with a 12:30 p.m. shotgun start. Cost is $50 per golfer for club members and veterans or $125 per golfer ($400 per foursome) for the general public. The day includes lunch, golf, heavy appetizers, and prizes.

You can learn more about Bravo Zulu House and register for the tournament at www.bravozuluhouse.org.

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