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Tucson ranch is transforming veterans' lives

Posted at 4:06 AM, Dec 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-19 09:59:28-05

TUCSON, Ariz. -- A ranch in Tucson is being transformed into a safe-haven for veterans.

The purpose of the nonprofit H.M. Shaw’s Veterans Ranch is to help them transition from soldiers to civilians.

Bobby “Flagg” Shoptaw is the first Veteran to live on the ranch. He says, this place is truly going to transform lives, and he wants to witness it.

“I’m gonna spend my last days with these folks for every veteran we can get,” said Shoptaw.

He’s a Vietnam veteran who went to war at 15 years old. Flagg served two tours in the Army and a tour in the Navy. After he came back from the war, he said he felt if he told people he had served, it would be the end of his career. So, he chose to never speak of the war, until now.

“Nobody knew for over 40 years. No...I want them to be proud. Really proud cause that’s a hell of a job they do,” said Flagg.

He’s hoping this ranch will help them heal and transition from soldier to civilian.

“When they leave this place. We want them to have their life together. I don;t want them going out and getting a job somewhere, I want them to have a career where they can take care of their family for the rest of their lives,” Flagg added.

He says once they get enough donations to get a bunkhouse up, they will be able to accept 15 to 20 veterans on the ranch. Once veterans arrive, they will be required to attend basic life skills training courses on the ranch.

“We’ve got so many people in this community that’s offered to train these veterans. From journeyman to HVAC, to mechanics, to driving trucks,” said Flagg.

Volunteers have even come to help clear brush off the 5 acre property to make room for the living quarters.

“Fortunately Tucson loves their Veterans. People want to help us and we need it,” Flagg told KGUN9.

They already have chicken coops and several citrus trees on property.

The idea is to expand the orchard and bring in more animals, to help make the ranch self-sustainable.

“Here we want the comfort the environment for them that they feel secure. That they feel loved. No, we want to change their lives here. We want to make them what they can be and this it it. The H.M Veterans Ranch is what will do that,” added Flagg.

Veterans who are accepted must be clean before coming into the ranch and must remain dry during their stay. Their stay could range from a couple of months time lifetime.

Flag says he is going to stay on the ranch until his last day, trying to help any veteran that comes their way.

To learn more about this nonprofit, click here.