By Dale Bass
Kamloops This Week
Rick and Donna Wanless’ property in Rayleigh is home to Honour Ranch, which will provide a retreat for veterans and first responders dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder, a first for B.C.
First responders were called out when Rick Wanless was hurt in an accident a few years ago. The care they gave the longtime member of the Kamloops Horse Patrol was exceptional, Wanless said, so much so that he and wife Donna wanted to do something to give back. That led them to Honour House.
On Oct. 15, Honour Ranch was introduced to the region at the Wanless property in Rayleigh. The society behind Honour House in New Westminster provides a refuge for first responders who are receiving medical care and treatment.
Honour Ranch in Kamloops will provide a retreat for veterans and first responders dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a first for B.C.
Most know the property as Hacienda Caballo, home to the Mounted Patrol — and that will remain.
It will also continue as home to Rick and Donna, but a clubhouse on site will become the focus of Honour Ranch, where veterans and first responders can find respite and a place for some rest and relaxation.
Statistics show as of the end of August, 46 first responders in Canada have taken their own lives, 14 of them in B.C., the highest of any province.
The statistics don’t reflect how many had PTSD, but those who work in the field have suggested the public should assume first responders experience mental injuries from doing their work.
Wanless learned of the Honour House society through the Justice Institute of B.C., also based in New Westminster. He said while the institute provides training for first responders, it has nothing in place to provide assistance to those who experience trauma from their work.
“We wanted to do something that would help people with PTSD,” Wanless said, speaking about the “great work” of the paramedics who tended to him.
“What we’re doing is just one step, sharing the property,” he said.
Rick said he and Donna will be watching as the program grows “to be sure the commitment and the vision is for the people who serve and work so hard on our behalf.”
He’s hoping the surrounding communities will pitch in to help grow Honour Ranch.
Already, Brentwood Enterprises in Kamloops has done some work on the long road into the property, fixing it up for those who will come not only for the press conference Saturday, but to spend time resting at the ranch.
“We feel we have been blessed to live in the best of times and to have taught school for 60 years between the two of us,” Wanless said. “We’ve had wonderful careers and it’s time to give back. We’re just hoping others want to help, too.”