Lee Retreat Helps Grieving Military Families Find Support 

Two years after their son was killed in Iraq, the parents of a Lee man are working to help other military families dealing with loss. On Wednesday, they received support that will allow them reach even more people.Sgt. Joel House was 22-years old when he was killed while serving in Iraq. It was at a memorial service when his parents, Paul and Dee, realized it helped to talk to other families who’d lost loved ones overseas.”It was just a great sense of, we’re not alone. We’re not the only ones crying at night, remembering our sons and daughters. That brought comfort to our family. I thought – there’s got to be something we can do, to help other families,” Paul House says.So, they started “A House in the Woods,” a small retreat for military families and veterans at their home in Lee.Paul says it’s a place where people can visit to find peace in the outdoors, and comfort from others who know what they’re going through.”If they want to talk about their loved one, they can. If they don’t, that’s OK. I think the therapy is just being together and realizing that they’re not alone, and we’re not alone. And if they cry, that’s OK,” Paul says.The retreat offers outdoor programs like hiking, canoeing and fishing, and other activities.”I think it’ll be a great help to people. I know it has been to me,” says Lee resident Bill Emery. His son also died while serving in Iraq. “We’ve spent a lot of time together and it helps both of us, to just talk. And talk about everything.”Paul was presented with a 10-thousand dollar check from Wal-Mart, and a 10-thousand dollar grant from the state to help the program grow.”He said, ‘Thank you for being here,'” Governor Baldacci said Wednesday, referring to Paul. “And I said, ‘Thank you for being here for all of us.'”Paul also credits Sen. Elizabeth Schneider with helping to raise awareness for their program.”I told him I thought he had a great idea, bringing people not only from Maine, but eventually and hopefully bringing people from outside Maine and introducing them to the Maine experience,” Schneider says.Paul and Dee say their goal is to raise enough money to buy a piece of land for a larger camp, to lend support to more families and veterans.