Veterans retreat heading to Dripping Springs

Staff Report

DRIPPING SPRINGS — Central Texas veterans are getting a permanent retreat and resource base at Patriots’ Hall of Dripping Springs (PHDS). 

Philanthropists John Paul and Eloise DeJoria have given $1 million from their JP’s Peace, Love & Happiness Foundation to build the PHDS Meeting Hall and PHDS Wellness Center, focusing on Veterans’ health needs and VA Claims assistance.

PHDS is a 10-acre permanent retreat and resource base for veterans and their families to connect and find support. The Hill Country retreat will feature a Main Gathering Hall for therapeutic workshops, employment, and educational seminars, in addition to vet-to-vet mentoring and social activities. There will also be a Meeting House for the local VFW and American Legion Post meetings, a Wellness Center with VA claims assistance, a fishing pond, playscape, vegetable garden, obstacle course, ADA walking trailsand more.

Patriots’ Hall was founded by Kathryn Chandler, wife of actor Kyle Chandler, and Dr. Mary Jane Hetrick, Dripping Springs Volunteer of the Year. Kathryn had been inspired by her dad, a Vietnam veteran, now living in a veterans’ home in California.

“I was only four when my father returned from two tours of Vietnam,” said Kathryn. “But my mom told me he came home a very different person. So, I’ve only known him as an extreme introvert, basically a hermit. But now he is surrounded by other veterans. 

“He listens to the military doctors, has made some incredible friends and is thriving. Veterans get each other. Veterans need each other, and John Paul gets this. He and our community have stepped up big time to make this happen and we can’t thank them enough.”

While brainstorming their mission, the board took an in-depth survey of veterans’ needs and applied them to every aspect of the PHDS design. The majority of the PHDS board and advisory board are also veterans.

“I can tell you the needs in Central Texas for Veterans are tremendous,’ said Jeff Wells, board member and U.S. Army combat Veteran. “Unemployment rates, mental health, and family issues are all front-of-mind for veterans, and the Patriots’ Hall addresses all of these issues, along with other basic needs. The largest U.S. veteran population in the world resides between Fort Hood and San Antonio. The Patriots’ Hall is right in the center of it all. Veterans helping Veterans. That’s our mission.”

John Paul is a proud veteran and joined the U.S. Navy at the age of 18 and spent two years serving upon the U.S.S. Hornet. In 2006, John Paul was appointed Admiral in the Texas Navy by the Governor of Texas and the Secretary of State. In 2012, he received the Lone Sailor Award, which honors  Sea Service veterans who have excelled with distinction in their civilian careers while exemplifying the Navy’s core values of honor, courage, and commitment.

“A short distance from my home in Austin is this wonderful veterans hall,” said John Paul. “All too often, many of our vets find themselves alone and with no one to help them. The Patriots’ Hall of Dripping Springs was built to assist and connect veterans to what they need to know for their health and benefits and, more importantly, to provide a place to hang out with one another. We are social animals and we function much better in groups with the support of others. I learned this in my time in the Navy.”

Donations can be made to support Patriots’ Hall of Dripping Springs directly through their website at patriotshall.org. Patriots’ Hall is slated to be complete in early 2023.

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