Veteran's assist agency reaps big prize for retreat

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By Kayla Swanson

 Being on the front lines of a war is tough, but coming home and adjusting to civilian life can be even tougher. 

One Hillview organization is looking to make the transition from military life to home life easier for veterans by building a retreat center in Kentucky.

Active Heroes, which supports veterans, active duty military and their families through home repairs and financial assistance, hopes to build the facility on a campground. 

President Troy Yocum said they are already looking for land and hope someone might be interested in donating land for the project. 

Active Heroes chose to build a retreat center so they can help veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder heal through nature. 

The retreat center will have space for batting cages, an area for hiking and canoeing and other physical activities and a classroom where veterans could take online classes, receive psychiatric treatments and meet with social workers, Yocum said. 

“We want to round out the experience for military families,” Yocum said. “We feel this is a place of real healing.”

Active Heroes recent $250,000 grand prize winnings from the Home Depot Foundation’s Aprons in Action contest will help pay for the cost of the retreat center, Yocum said.  


Aprons in Action is a Facebook voting contest held each month. Active Heroes was entered into the March competition, Yocum said, after Home Depot officials saw a video the organization did about renovations done on veteran Michael Hayes’ home. 

Active Heroes won the March contest and received $25,000 to renovate two homes with and were entered into the grand prize competition.  

Voting lasted throughout the month of May and nine other veterans charities were in the contest. 

To get votes, Yocum said Active Heroes did a lot of media promotion and held a 12-hour voting marathon at Fourth Street Live in Louisville on the last day of the competition. 


Two veterans from California and one veteran from Fort Campbell ran on treadmills and exercise bikes for the entire 12-hour event, Yocum said. 

The night of the voting marathon radio station WAMZ was hosting Hot Country Nights and singer Dustin Lynch invited all veterans to join him onstage during the concert.

“It was a magical moment,” Yocum said. 

Yocum said Active Heroes didn’t expect to receive the support and votes it did. 

“Once we started, we saw how many people caught on,” he said. 

Because last year’s Aprons in Action grand prize winner received 35,000 votes and some of this year’s monthly winners won with 35,000 votes, Yocum said, he anticipated his group would have to get about 40,000 votes to win.

Active Heroes ended up with 107,000 votes, 62,000 votes ahead of the second place finisher, Yocum said. 

“The city of Louisville got behind us and helped us win this,” he said. 

In addition, people from outside Kentucky voted for Active Heroes to win the money, even if they had a charity from their home state in the contest, Yocum said. 

The support Active Heroes received during the contest not only showed support for the organization, Yocum said, but for the retreat center as well. 

Active Heroes is located on Old Preston Highway in Hillview. For more information the programs Active Heroes offers or to sign up to volunteer with the organization, visit www.activeheroes.org.