Project New Hope began in the fall of 2008 when Lions Club member, Bruce Billington – an avid outdoorsman, of Crosslake, Minnesota viewed the value of weekend camps for people with disabilities. Considering the peaceful natural setting and the value of getting away from the roles of the Army base and home life, he thought that such an experience might help veterans working to integrate back into normal family life and routines. His idea was picked up by individuals who belong to local Lions Clubs and has been spreading across the United States.
Multiple deployments have beaten down veterans and their families. The ability to cope with problems and stresses is worn away by extended and frequent absences from home. As a result, the incidents of divorce, domestic violence, suicide, and homelessness are greater among the veterans than the civilian population and at unprecedented levels in the history of the military. Because of the overwhelming need, for the first time the Army Chaplain Corps, with the approval of the Department of Defense, has been reaching out into the local communities to organize and create programs to help veterans.
In addition to our active duty veterans, the Massachusetts and New England National Guard and Reserves are experiencing the largest deployments in their history. Project New Hope helps veterans and their families with retreats at local retreat/camps. Lives are changed dramatically and the impact is profound. It is a small part and it makes a difference that will be felt a lifetime.