Support builds for inn to help grieving families of military war dead
Betsy Reed Schultz, converting her former bed-and-breakfast inn in Port Angeles to a place for families of military personnel killed in war to mourn and hopefully heal, stands with memorabilia relating to her own son, Army Capt. Joseph Schultz, who was killed in combat last year.
By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News
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Schultz's goal is to get her Captain Joseph House, named after her late son — decorated Green Beret Capt. Joseph William Schultz, who died in Afghanistan last year — up and running by this time next year at 1108 S. Oak St. in Port Angeles.
In December, award-winning author and journalist Maria Shriver, the niece of John F. Kennedy, invited Schultz to California.
She agreed to help raise funds for the project on Shriver's blog, www.mariashriver.com/blog.
Late last year, Schultz also talked with former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen, a retired Navy admiral.
She also met with Washington Sens. Maria Cantwell, D-Mountlake Terrace, and Patty Murray, D-Bothell; and the staff of U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, a Belfair Democrat whose 6th Congressional District includes Clallam and Jefferson counties.
Schultz, 61, spoke in New York at the Pearl Harbor Day national meeting at the request of the Green Beret Foundation, which has agreed to cover travel expenses to Port Angeles for families of fallen Green Berets.
And she has garnered enthusiastic support from the state Department of Veterans Affairs.
“For Washington state, I'm pretty sure this is one of a kind,” Alfie Alvarado, deputy director of the state Department of Veterans Affairs, said Wednesday.
“For the nation, it's one of the first, if not the first, as it gets put into operation,” Alvarado said.
“Our agency is wholeheartedly in support of such an effort.”
Capt. Schultz was 36 when he was killed in Afghanistan on May 29 by an improvised explosive device.
Two other soldiers died in the explosion.
One who survived has pledged to join 70 of Schultz's son's friends in a “Let's Run for Joe” fundraiser that will be part of the Big Sur International Marathon on April 29, “even if he's in a wheelchair,” Schultz said.
There's still much to do.
“We need about $440,000 to remodel the house without any donations of time, services and goods,” Schultz told about two dozen people at the Port Angeles Business Association breakfast meeting Tuesday.
The group agreed to write a letter of support for the project.
“Not a day goes by that I don't say, ‘Gosh, Joseph, I hope this is something you would approve of and is a respectful thing for your mother to do,'” she told meeting participants.
“Not only do we need to honor my son, Joseph, but every soldier who has paid the ultimate price,” Schultz said.
Schultz envisions the Captain Joseph House as a place for families to heal and rebuild — and build new dreams — in the company of others going through the same journey.
“If you've lost someone during a war incident, you'll have a commonness you won't have if you went to another B & B,” she said.
Participation in the Sunday-Friday Capt. Joseph House program would be limited to families who have lost military personnel since May 29, when Schultz's son died.
“It's a result of my loss that this thing has come and brewed up,” Schultz explained in a later interview.
She recalled a Vietnam veteran who testified at the Oct. 26 Port Angeles Planning Commission hearing that led to her receiving a conditional-use permit for the facility.
“His comment was that had there been an opportunity such as this for Vietnam War families of the fallen, what a difference it would have made in their lives,” Schultz said.
All expenses, including air fare, would be covered for families who utilized the house, which would be overseen by the nonprofit Cap. Joseph House Foundation.
The foundation has a 12-person board of directors whose residences range from Washington, D.C., to Washington state.
Offers have come flooding in from the North Olympic Peninsula business community to provide free services and activities, from architectural help to accounting to kayaking trips, Schultz said.
The facility would have three full-time staff members and would offer activities for toddlers to adults.
Drivers who pick up program participants at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport also would be available to take families to points of interest on the North Olympic Peninsula and engage in such activities as kayaking and hiking, she said.
Mental health and religious counseling would be available “as backup” if needed, and the kitchen will be stocked with food, she said.
Schultz added that up to three families a week could use the facility.
In establishing the Capt. Joseph House, she is combining her background in the hospitality industry with her former experience working in quality assurance and training in the California Department of Developmental Services.
“A large part of this is hospitality. A large part is recognizing an individual's need for comfort, for recognition, for assistance,” Schultz said.
Schultz moved to Port Angeles in 2001 and bought The Tudor Inn.
Donations for the project can be sent to the Captain Joseph House Foundation, 1108 S. Oak St., Port Angeles, WA 98362.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-417-3536 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last modified: February 16. 2012 9:47AM