For Military Appreciation Month – House in the Woods

by May 30, 2014Adventures in the Woods, Uncategorized

For Military Appreciation Month – House in the Woods

Visiting a cemetery days after Memorial Day was surprisingly emotional for me.  As I pushed my almost 1-year old in his stroller past the rows of stones, I was touched by the number of those sites that had American flags next to them.

I thought about those who had given their lives for the freedoms that my son will enjoy. 

I also started thinking about an incredible family that I met at a Sportsmans show earlier this spring.  Paul and Dee House turned their tragedy into something that I want to support and tell you about:

There is some notoriety that you don’t want to have.  If you Google “Lee, Maine” you will find articles about the documentary “Welcome to Lee, Maine” and see that Lee is known for being the smallest town in the US to lose more than one soldier in war – specifically the Iraq war.  Sgt. Blair Emery, 24 and Sgt. Joel House, 22 were killed five months apart from one other.  I encourage you to watch this clip from the movie that is a little longer than the trailer but is a great view into the world of this small community and the impact that the loss of both men had.

Sgt. Joel House died seven years ago this June and since then his parents, Paul and Dee house have created a way to honor Joel’s memory and passions.  The result is an amazing non-profit called House in The Woods.  It’s goal is to give soldiers the opportunity to go hunting with their peers and Maine guides to relax, talk and enjoy nature and the beauty of Maine.

House in the Woods welcomes all vets into their programs to enjoy the magic of the outdoors, the comradery of being among fellow soldiers and once you get to Maine, the program is FREE!  If you talk with Dee and Paul, you can instantly tell how passionate they are about the outdoors, hunting and honoring their son.  You can’t help but want to be a part of something like that, especially as a fellow hunter and Mainer.

My goal since first meeting the Houses, is to be more involved with this organization and learn more about what they do and who they help.  One of the hardest challenges (besides the fact that I have a young family, work full time and write as my hobby) is that I live about four hours south of Lee, Maine and having the time to get up there has not been as easy as I had hoped.  But – I can spread the word and encourage all of you to look into this great organization and maybe even help them continue their mission by sending a few dollars their way.  They are working on raising $50,000 for the Legacy campaign.

As time and my schedule allows, I hope to bring you more stories about House in the Woods and its impact on soldiers, especially since Maine has one of the highest percentages (10.5%) of veterans in the US.  Organizations like this are too important not to talk about and share.  It helps hunters, it helps Vets and it gets people into the great outdoors – is there really anything better than that?

On June 23, 2007 his mother’s birthday, Joel House was killed by an IED while on patrol in Taji, Iraq. He was 22. On November 30, 2007 Blair Emery was killed by an IED while on patrol in Baghdad, Iraq. Blair was 24. Both soldiers were from Lee, Maine. – See more at: http://www.welcometoleemainefilm.com/about/#sthash.VD8HXkAB.dpuf

On June 23, 2007 his mother’s birthday, Joel House was killed by an IED while on patrol in Taji, Iraq. He was 22. On November 30, 2007 Blair Emery was killed by an IED while on patrol in Baghdad, Iraq. Blair was 24. Both soldiers were from Lee, Maine. – See more at: http://www.welcometoleemainefilm.com/about/#sthash.VD8HXkAB.dpuf

On June 23, 2007 his mother’s birthday, Joel House was killed by an IED while on patrol in Taji, Iraq. He was 22. On November 30, 2007 Blair Emery was killed by an IED while on patrol in Baghdad, Iraq. Blair was 24. Both soldiers were from Lee, Maine. – See more at: http://www.welcometoleemainefilm.com/about/#sthash.VD8HXkAB.dpuf

On June 23, 2007 his mother’s birthday, Joel House was killed by an IED while on patrol in Taji, Iraq. He was 22. On November 30, 2007 Blair Emery was killed by an IED while on patrol in Baghdad, Iraq. Blair was 24. Both soldiers were from Lee, Maine. – See more at: http://www.welcometoleemainefilm.com/about/#sthash.VD8HXkAB.dpuf

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Erin Merrill, author of And a Strong Cup of Coffee, is president of Women of the Maine Outdoors, a senior writer for Drury Outdoors, a contributor to the Northwoods Sporting Journal and passionate all things Maine, Hunting, and the Outdoors.

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