Family Of Fallen Oklahoma Soldier First To Stay In Honor Cottage
SKIATOOK, Oklahoma - A special place for injured military men and women and their families, or the loved ones of those killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, is ready for its first family.
After nearly a year of planning and work, the Honor Cottage at Crosstimbers Marina on Skiatook Lake will get its first visitors this weekend.
Crosstimbers Marina, with the help of countless volunteers and donors, built the cottage for military families to enjoy.
"The vast majority of this $350,000 furnished cottage all came from donations, and so Green Country is a wonderful place," said Ron Howell, of Crosstimbers Marina.
The first family to stay at the cottage will arrive Friday to enjoy a nice, relaxing weekend for free.
Use of the cottage will be coordinated through the Folds of Honor Foundation, an Owasso based group that has already provided millions in scholarships for military children.
"Psychological problems have always been a difficulty of war, but this one has been a particularly horrific one to go through," Howell said.
The honor cottage is intended to help military families who've lost loved ones, or injured military men and women and their families, to enjoy a peaceful, relaxing setting, while getting their minds off what they've been through.
"Not so much about war and the terrors of war, but more about there is a normal world again, and here's a way to return to it," Howell said.
Jason Norton, originally from Miami, had spent 14 years in the Air Force, most recently as a K-9 trainer.
But in 2006, during his fourth deployment to Iraq, he was working with the Army on special assignment as a convoy commander when he was killed by an IED.
Norton left behind his wife Chris and 8-year-old daughter, Becca, and 7-year-old son, Dalton. The kids are now teenagers.
The family will be the first ones to get to stay at the Honor Cottage.
As many as 100 families are expected to stay there each year.
"These are true American heroes, this is just a way for us to say, 'We love you, and we appreciate you for what you did, and we're not going to forget you,'" Howell said.
More Honor Cottages, using the model for the one at Crosstimbers, are in the planning stages right now in three other states.
Crosstimbers hopes to have a floating Honor Cottage on Keystone Lake within the next couple of years.