The Battle Dawgs of Talkeetna, Alaska

TALKEETNA, AK -- Rick and Jen Casillo had a dream: to work with Veterans. It fit my dream for wanting to make a paradise for Veterans. Where they could come to play, to work, to dream, to find purpose again, and mostly to heal.

It was Divine intervention when Rick, Jen and I met one day, several years ago. Instant bonding and magic happened: "Could you live here on this property and bring Veterans?" I asked. It began with a hug (handshake), and back-breaking work, and expensive financial creativity. But we did it—a virtual paradise for our Nation's wounded heroes. “Build it and they will come” has been our battle cry. We built it and they are coming. God bless.

Rick took me for a side-by-side ride yesterday in a Kawasaki TRYX to witness some of the results of the hard work put into Camp Battle Dawgs – by amazing veterans such as Ryan and Chris. They help get camp ready for the Veterans and their families coming soon for another spectacular event. You can find them helping with the dogs (and dawgs), in the designing and construction of a new kitchen/cafeteria, the driveway, the cabins, meals, and anything and everything that needs some T.L.C. or major overhaul.

There are miles of trails criss-crossing mud, snow, moose droppings, dead trees, and tree limbs, Did I mention the mud? Rick invited me to take a quick joy-ride on these trails. He drove our coach through deep waters from the melted record-breaking snowfall of this past winter, and up and down hills that would put theme-park roller coaster rides to shame. I giggled like a schoolgirl, sometimes closing my eyes, but only for a second. I didn't want to miss one thing of this property transformation.

Suddenly, a moose ran into view. Rick recognized the bull who had been making trouble at the camp - bothering the 65 dogs. The moose stopped momentarily, checking us out. Our eyes met and locked. He seemed to be as mesmerized with us as we were with him. He let us know he was not afraid and then disappeared into the trees and bush. Wow. Another magical moment! Magical moments happen at warp speed at Camp Battle Dawgs.

Next, we had to find an alternate route back to headquarters, as a tree had fallen across our trail. Being at Battle Dawgs Camp is similar to stepping back in time. A time more simple, but more dangerous. A time when survival had to do with physical challenges, not corporate America. A brave time. Courageous.

The rough and tough Veteran Heroes are right at home under the harsh conditions of the camps, personally orchestrated by The Battle Dawgs team. They know what to do, and their survival skills are, once again, valuable. These skills don't often find necessity in modern America. But here in Talkeetna, Alaska, they are necessary, appreciated and valued.

There are many changes taking place on my "little" slice-of-heaven, tucked away on 640 acres off-the-grid supreme utopia. One thing hasn't changed: Denali. She is still the ruling Queen over this property. She has as many looks and moods as there are days and nights. She stands spectacular, and it's easy to forget our troubles when she is in full view. Majestically ruling the world in only her way. No matter how intense the focus on the work at hand, everyone stops for a moment, and stares. Denali affects each individual in a personalized, dramatic way. She can change us in an instant. She demands respect. Inspires happiness.

"Denali is the highest mountain peak in North America, with a summit elevation of 20,310 feet above sea level. With a topographic prominence of 20,156 feet and a topographic isolation of 4,629 miles, Denali is the third most prominent and third most isolated peak on Earth, after Mount Everest and Aconcagua." Wikipedia

One thing is for sure: when you experience Camp Battle Dawgs - you will never forget it and long to return. Get involved. Donate time, energy, or money. TODAY. You will find your world forever changed. This isn’t an advertisement, it is a plea for you to do some good for our heroes, the world, and yourself.

"Saving one warrior does not change the world,

but for that one warrior, the world is forever changed."

"Saving one warrior does not change the world,

but for that one warrior, the world is forever changed."

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