PORT ANGELES — As volunteers continue to remodel Captain Joseph House, the CJH Foundation is preparing to host “Remembering Our Fallen,” a national traveling photographic memorial honoring those who have died while serving the country since 9/11.
A photo of Army Capt. Joseph Schultz, who was killed while serving in Afghanistan six years ago and for whom the Captain Joseph House is named, will be just one of more than 5,000 photos of those who died while serving the country.
Schultz’s mother, Betsy Reed Schultz, director of the Captain Joseph House Foundation, said she is honored to have the display visiting in early December.
“The men and women on those towers, it is their families that will be coming here,” she said, calling the tribute somber and sad. “Hopefully people will recognize that in that loss, there is life in what is going on at Captain Joseph House.”
The tribute, which is made up of more than 30 towers, will be open and available to the public Dec. 8-11 in front of Captain Joseph House, 1108 S. Oak St., Port Angeles.
Opening ceremonies will be at 1 p.m. Friday, Dec. 8. There is no cost to the public to attend.
At this point, Port Angeles is the only place in Washington state scheduled to host the exhibit.
Schultz said that after a loved one dies, life does go on and Gold Star families will benefit from the comfort she plans to provide at the house, which she will be the first Gold Star Veteran Family-to-Family Respite in the nation.
“The men and women who go to war wonder who will remember their families and their loss should they die in combat,” Schultz said.
“Many of our volunteers helping to remodel Captain Joseph House are active or retired military.
“One soldier shared that he hoped his mother would never have a need to meet me, but he was deploying more at ease because he knew his mother would be remembered and cared for because of Captain Joseph House.”
After her son’s death, Schultz formed a nonprofit foundation to convert her former Tudor Inn at 1108 S. Oak St. into a retreat for the families of fallen service members.
The Captain Joseph House, named in honor of the late Green Beret, aims to provide all-expense-paid weeklong respites for the families of service members who died while on active duty during wartime in the military since terrorist attacks on the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001.
Schultz said that thanks to help from volunteers, the project is now about 80 percent finished.
The main floor features a sunroom, library, kitchen, dining area and some office space.
On the second floor are three bedrooms where families will stay. Rooms are named for Sgt. Aaron Blasjo and Sgt. 1st Class Martin Apolinar, who died in the Humvee with Schultz.
Another is named for Sgt. 1st Class Gene Braxton, who survived the blast and is still serving.
One of the rooms will be accessible to those with disabilities.
Schultz said the majority of the $356,000 raised in support of the house has been spent locally and that much of the work and supplies that have gone into the house have been donated.
She estimates that once the Captain Joseph House is open and Gold Star families are visiting, it will cost $500,000 each year to keep running.
“Financially, it’s good for the community,” she said. “But it’s also good for the community to have pride that this is the only respite house in the country.”
She said there is a core of volunteers who help once or twice a week with the remodel, with office work and with events. There are a total of 400 volunteers who help out throughout the year who have contributed about 14,000 volunteer hours.
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.