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STEEL HOPE: Iraq war veteran creating healing retreat for fellow fighters on Mineral Wells’ southern tip

Retired U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Clifton Flint, poses for a photo to represent post-traumatic stress disorder June 30, 2017, on RAF Mildenhall, England. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Micaiah Anthony)

 A burned out mansion on nine acres at Mineral Wells’ southern tip will offer veterans from across the country a safe haven to heal from traumas so many carry.

That’s the vision Army veteran Joshua Holm carries daily as he and his wife, Crystal, and their ally Julie Norris work to reform the grounds into Steel Hope Ranch.

“I know it was divine intervention that brought me here,” Holm said as he strode the nine-acre spread formerly owned by the late local philanthropist — and World War II veteran — Raymond L. Martin Jr.

He led his tour in the leg braces he wears from his own injuries while serving in the second surge of Army soldiers into Iraq in 2003. His multiple wounds, occurring in house raids and mortar attacks — “And, or course, an IED” — set him on his own journey from a wheelchair to walking again.

He’s been a resiliency coach in Africa and is the author of two books including, “Life After the Fall,” about his experiences getting hurt and recovering. Holm mentored defendants in the Veterans Treatment Courts in Kyle, a program which diverts veteran offenders away from jail and into treatment.

Now, Holm plans to offer his brothers and sisters in arms a setting to help divert them from dangerous paths that open wide for so many returning home. Veterans are at 57 percent higher risk of suicide than civilians, according to

The veterans who will come to Steel Hope Ranch could be from anywhere in America. Holm said he expects to welcome various support, ministry and counseling groups.

Holm and volunteers — he needs more — are cleaning up the property and restoring the two-story mansion, it’s 3,200-square-feet interior blackened by the fire that gutted it in 2012. The garage will be enclosed and converted to a pantry, while the top floor will host offices with the first floor serving as a sort of fellowship hall.

“That’s going to be the gathering area, like grandma’s kitchen,” Holm told the Mineral Wells Noon Lions on Thursday. “We’re building a place for others.”

Holm plans 22 cabins on the grounds for the vets and their families he hopes will come for retreats of up to a week or 31-day transitional treatment.

He’d also told the Lions about a public event on Nov. 12 to mark Veterans Day, a Saturday, and introduce residents of his adopted hometown to Steel Hope Ranch.

That day, and the week leading up to it, 500 U.S. flags will wave on one half of the sprawling front lawn, renamed Unity Field. A car show, headlined by Gen. Lee, the hot rod Beau and Luke drove in the 1970s series, The Dukes of Hazzard, will stage on the other half.

There will be kids activities, music and a 3 p.m. ceremony attended by a World War II veteran, Holm said.

He also pitched the fundraising function of Steel Hope, a 501(c)3 nonprofit.

Supporters can buy tall Hero Banners bearing their favorite photo of their favorite veteran on each vinyl side for $150 (these will fill space during the Nov. 12 event but go home with their owner). Those vertical commemorations can designate a sponsor — but they must be ordered by Oct. 8 to be included in the Unity Field event.

“We’re looking for businesses to display them downtown, and in Weatherford and all over Fort Worth,” he said. “The No. 1 thing we need is support, local support.”

He’s selling flags for $40, and has been given responsibility for the Retired Flag Project which saves tattered flags from cremation and preserves them in the traditional three-corner fold — another sort of diversion.

People can text STEEL to 45888 to donate, or go to Amazon shoppers can designate Steel Hope as their charity for a percentage of sales to go to the project.

Holm estimates a need topping $1 million — $460,000 to restore the house and about $600,000 for the two rows of 11 cabins each.

The Holms moved here from Keller after the husband visited as part of a group that thought about restoring the Crazy Water Hotel before developer Randy Nix won out.

But, he might be right about a higher power bringing him to the late PFC Martin’s former home. A local philanthropist and newspaper publisher, Martin was a generous supporter of his fellow veterans.

He’s resting across the street in Woodland Park Cemetery, so his spirit won’t have far to look and see good works happening for vets at his earthly home.


(c) 2022 Weatherford Democrat

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