Union County veterans will be among the participants of a pilot program to test out the restorative care center under development at Hot Lake Springs.

Kristen Cooper, marketing director for the Veterans Restorative Care Center, has been working toward getting the pilot for the one-of-a-kind program off the ground. The center will provide counseling, education and recreational services to help veterans heal, both mentally and physically. The care center is raising the funds needed to get the program fully ready, but six veterans will be able to see what this care center is all about in early October.

“What we’re doing is conducting a pilot program to combine the Warrior Bonfire program and its recreational activities with natural medicine,” Cooper said. “We’ll have four naturopathic doctors on site for the veterans. They’ll be able to enjoy the hot lake springs and the hydro therapy and be able to have brotherhood and sisterhood.”

The Warrior Bonfire program was founded to provide opportunities for veterans to improve their lives after being wounded in combat. The program offers recreational activities in order to create bonding among fellow veterans.

Cooper said there are three things veterans suffer from the most: pain, whether seen or unseen, physical or emotional; a sense of loss — like losing a member of their family, their hopes or dreams, careers, etc.; and a financial burden — they’re either underemployed or unemployed.

“We’re trying to (help) them (with) all three,” Cooper said.

According to Cooper, 22 veterans commit suicide every day.

“That number hasn’t shifted in years,” she said. “Something is amiss. We feel like natural medicine is the missing piece of the puzzle. We’re working on the whole veteran.”

Five veterans from Northeast Oregon and one from Colorado will take part in this pilot program, Cooper said. Mike Foss, president of the Warrior Bonfire Program, interviewed veterans who expressed an interest in being part of this program.

“They had to be willing to share their story,” Cooper said.

The Colorado veteran has taken part in the Warrior Bonfire Program previously and will be there to see how the program is different when natural medicine is combined with the Warrior Bonfire Program, Cooper said.

The veterans will be at Hot Lake Resort Oct. 6-9 to experience the VRCC program.