Director of new Lancer Legacy Ranch speaks to County Commissioners
Matthew Fisk, the director for Lancer Legacy Ranch, spoke to the Cass County Commissioners Court about the mission of the newly formed non-profit organization.
Lancer Legacy Ranch is a non-profit dedicated to serving veterans and providing them a low cost housing.
The organization is located in what was the Northeast Texas Restitution Center in Maud, Texas.
Matthew Fisk is a retired Army Captain and served eight years in logistics with eight years prior to that as infantry.
Fisk spoke about a personal project he began in Cookville, TX after he was released from the Army before he had the opportunity to serve at Lancer Legacy Ranch.
“When I got out I wanted to do something for my fellow veterans and I didn’t know what that was at the time and I knew that I had PTSD and I wanted to help other people who had it as well,” said Fisk.
“My wife and I moved from Fort Polk, LA to Cookville in Titus County and I bought about ten acres and put an RV and a cabin and from my shoestring budget from disability I was able to have veterans come out from time to time and stay a weekend and help me out on the farm,” said Fisk.
“The concept was being around other people who share your experience and doing something that is productive.”
“Over the course of two years I was able to host 64 out at our place and I am not sure what kind of impact I made, I was just trying to do the best that I could,” said Fisk.
Fisk spoke about how he was healed of PTSD and how he can put this to use to help fellow veterans.
“About six months ago I was completely healed of PTSD and now I have somewhat of a road map a way to lead folks out of where I used to be but up until about five weeks ago I didn’t know how that was going to look,” said Fisk.
Fisk spoke about how he found out about Catherine Betts wanting to do something with the facility and how Lancer Legacy Ranch came to fruition.
“It just so happens that there was a bigger plan in place, my mother read an article in the newspaper about this woman named Catherine Betts who wanted to do something with the old restitution place in Maud and I called her [Betts] up and asked ‘how can I help’.”
“I was walking through the facility coming up with this great plan that I was expecting someone else to do but as I was walking through the facility I saw the potential and a voice in my head said why not you.”
“That was about five weeks ago and this is like a combat mission we are planning as we are executing we have two guys who are staying there right now, one is a Vietnam era vet and the other is closer to my age and we are just doing the best we can for them,” said Fisk.
Fisk spoke about what programs they currently have and what programs they are planning for in the future.
“The only active program we have right now is the residential piece, we are trying to find out the best way to meet the actual needs of the community, from now until September we are just opening the doors to any veterans as long as they meet our selection criteria,” said Fisk.
“We are going to see what the actual needs are in the community,” Fisk continued.
“We have a tremendous outpouring of support from the community of Maud, there is a licensed practicing intern who wants to use all 3000 hours of her volunteer time in our facility, she has helped me create a mental health program that makes sense that ranges from depression to PTSD,” said Fisk.
“One thing that I can provide that maybe others can’t is the, I’ve been there I’ve done that, a lot of time the veterans will take a long time to warm up to a counselor that hasn’t served particularly the ones who have been in combat,” said Fisk.
“So I can very quickly come to their side with my extensive combat experience and tell them that I understand what you are going through,” said Fisk.
“We want to add more programs as time goes along and people stand up that will run them, chief among them would be community service,” said Fisk.
Fisk spoke about the size of the facility and how he plans to make it sustainable.
“This facility in Maud is huge and has more room than I know what to do with,” said Fisk.
“The entrance is a 50 by 50 room that we are going to turn into a community center that will be open to everyone, places to play dominoes or spades, serve coffee and have folks from the community come in,” said Fisk.
“I am excited about the sustainable aspect of it, I am a master gardener and I love growing things and getting my hands it the dirt but the other aspect of that we would grow what we need to eat,” said Fisk.
“We could also in time instead of having to pay an enormous light bill we could generate our own power,” said Fisk.
“I want the facility to be a sustainable as possible and that is the same goal I have for the veterans as well,” said Fisk.
Fisk spoke about what the veterans that stay at the ranch are required to accomplish.
“Anyone who stays will owe me four hours a day because I want to instill in them a sense of purpose and a sense of worth that they perhaps lost after their military service,” said Fisk.
He also said any veteran staying there that is able to pay something will need to but they will work with them.