Today (July 18) will mark the grand realization of a dream to help veterans into housing and give hope to those who need an extra hand.
U.S. Army veteran Ryan Timmermans, of Veterans Off-Grid, purchased 50 acres of land in Carson west of Taos in 2016 and has made it his goal to use that land to help his brothers and sisters in arms. He graduated from the Earthship Academy - which teaches techniques for building off-grid, solar-powered homes from tires, bottles and other recyclable material - near Taos and began the process of bringing homes to vets who needed a bit of healing and help along their journey.
"Twenty-two veterans die by their own hand every day," Timmermans said. "I got tired of seeing my friends take their own lives and got tired of criticizing the government. I realized I had two hands and two feet and that I could make a difference."
The nonprofit seeks to provide housing and a sense of purpose to veterans who need the extra reassurance that they are not alone in their struggle. Timmermans and his crew will provide free lodging to veterans as they continue to build more Earthship houses for others. The only catch is vets must work 30-35 hours per month at the location building the new homes.
To date, veterans involved with the nonprofit and other volunteers have helped the organization construct a road, a greenhouse, outdoor dining area, showers and other structures. In keeping with the Veteran Off-Grid dual purpose, structures are built with recycled materials when possible. The group worked with Taos County to use ground glass for improving the road to the remote property. And they are remodeling an existing Earthship on the property.
The grand opening and public tour will start at 10 a.m. Thursday. On Saturday (July 20), there will be the opening of a new building site.
"Together, veterans are capable of accomplishing incredible feats," Timmermans said. "Together we will become world changers and protectors of the planet."
The group has a few veterans already living on-site with more to come in the future. Several civilians are also working on the project.
Timmermans said the best way for the community to help is to donate and spread the word of the organization. For more information, visit veteransoffgrid.org.
To find the property, type Veterans Off-Grid into a map app, if you have one. Otherwise, head west on U.S. Highway 64 and take a left on Upper Rim Road. Follow that south and turn right on State Road 567. Turn right on the dirt road before the post office and follow that to the center.