Captain Joseph House to host Memorial Day ceremony

Respite home provides space for Gold Star Families

Members of the Captain Joseph House Foundation gather in October to celebrate the gifting of a Gold Star Monument marker in front of the Captain Joseph House in Port Angeles. (Courtesy photo)

Members of the Captain Joseph House Foundation gather in October to celebrate the gifting of a Gold Star Monument marker in front of the Captain Joseph House in Port Angeles. (Courtesy photo)

PORT ANGELES — Captain Joseph House — a Port Angeles respite home dedicated to Gold Star Families — will hold a special ceremony honoring fallen soldiers at 4 p.m. Monday, followed by tours of the home.

“It’s a time to honor and pay our respects to the men and women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice,” said Betsy Reed Schultz, executive director of the Captain Joseph House Foundation.

Schultz said she’s held a Memorial Day ceremony in front of Captain Joseph House every year since 2013, when she started the foundation. The ceremony closes the street in front of the home and features a flag line by the American Legion Riders Post 29, guest speakers and bagpipes.

Captain Joseph House, located at 1108 S. Oak St. in Port Angeles, is the first respite house in the nation dedicated solely to serving Gold Star Families, immediate family members of U.S. military service members who have been killed in combat or in military training exercises.

The home was named after Schultz’s son, U.S. Army Capt. Joseph William Schultz, who was killed in Afghanistan on Memorial Day weekend in 2011.

Following the death of her son, Schultz converted her bed and breakfast into a home where Gold Star Families could come, stay and connect with other families that have experienced a similar loss.

Schultz funded the conversion solely through fundraising and donations, and although the foundation was started in 2013, it wasn’t until 2022 when the first families arrived.

The foundation pays for all expenses related to the trip, including airfare, and while the weeklong stay is meant to provide relief for the families, Schultz said it’s not a vacation.

“It’s not vacation, it’s work,” she said. “They’re bringing with them their broken hearts. They know they’ve come to spend time with other families and that those other people can most understand how they feel.”

So far, 15 families have come through the home, Schultz said, and activities are based on the season and that day’s weather. Activities include things like hikes, picnics and other outings, including visiting a horse ranch.

But most of all, Schultz said families are able to connect with one another over their loss.

“Moms talk and they ask questions of one another, like, ‘How do I deal with a daughter who just doesn’t want to talk about the loss?’ They talk with other family members who have gone through a similar experience,” Schultz said.

The home is also open to families who have lost a family member to suicide resulting from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Those families have a special week when they visit Captain Joseph House, Schultz said.

“I feel terrible that’s how we’re all meeting; however, there’s a gift in that,” Schultz said. “I’m not alone. The families that come, they know they’re not alone, that there’s people who are walking the same journey.”

Schultz said many families who visit Captain Joseph House form deep connections and many stay in contact with one another after they leave.

The fastest (and slowest) way families learn about Captain Joseph House is through word of mouth, Schultz said, but the foundation also works with Survivor Outreach Services, a U.S. military program for family members of fallen service members.

Families still have to apply for the program, and paperwork needs to be provided in order to be accepted. Only families who have lost someone in the U.S. military since Sept. 11, 2001, are eligible.

In October, Captain Joseph House was awarded a Gold Star Memorial marker, a special monument presented by the National Garden Club in support of Gold Star Families. Captain Joseph House’s monument was a gift from the Port Angeles Garden Club and the Washington State Federation of Garden Clubs.

“Grieving doesn’t end, it just has a different tenor to it,” Schultz said. “It doesn’t stop just because it’s been years and years later. As the family has this loss, being a family together is a part of healing together.”


Reporter Peter Segall can be reached by email at

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