Hays County has about 14,000 Veterans. And the state of Texas has the second largest population of Veterans in the country. And Forbes Magazine has ranked Austin as the No. 1 place in the U.S. for Veterans to live and find employment.
Unfortunately, in the last 20 years, membership at local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and American Legion posts have plummeted. Veterans of recent wars come home to financial challenges, family changes, and physical and emotional trials that resulted from their military service.
These Veterans need support. And the story of Patriots’ Hall started with two Veterans.
How Patriots’ Hall Came to Life
Local VFW founders Shorty Barnett and Gary Hale wanted to find a permanent home to host activities to attract younger veterans. To fill the gap to bring in younger Veterans, the plan for Patriots’ Hall of Dripping Springs came to life.
Kathryn Chandler, a Dripping Springs resident and daughter of a Vietnam veteran saw the flyer that Barnett and Hale posted around town. Initially, she set out to raise money for the VFW and American Legion posts to buy a new site. After doing research, she and other locals decided to form a 501(c)(3) nonprofit called Patriots’ Hall. Their goal is to support a broader development that welcomes veterans of all ages and U.S. armed forces.
In addition to the Veterans of Hays County, it turns out nearby Bexar County has 160,000 Veterans. And Dripping Springs neighbor Travis County has 50,000 Veterans. Considering Dripping Springs is only 20 miles from Austin, the board decided Dripping Springs is an ideal point for bringing together Veterans from around the Central Texas region.
Five out of the nine members of the nonprofit’s board are Veterans. Also, on the board is Chandler’s husband Kyle who is an actor known for “Friday Night Lights” and “Early Edition.” Located on 10 acres of land on the south side of West Hwy. 290 east of downtown Dripping Springs, this resource will help Veterans to connect and find support.
The Dripping Springs City Council has generously waived permit fees with the project. The board is still working on raising enough money to break ground.
Patriots’ Hall Offerings
The property will house two buildings. One is a 7,100 sq. ft. main gathering hall. The other is a 1,200 sq. ft. accent hall for the VFW and American Legion posts. The primary space will have an open main room, office space, kitchen, reading room, billiards room, and outdoor covered spaces.
The Patriots’ Hall will offer therapeutic workshops, art classes, education, employment seminars, weekend campouts, and an outdoor obstacle course. Veterans will have access to health care with an on-site wellness clinic and vet-to-vet mentorship. Classes will include yoga and equine therapy. The site’s plan also features a vegetable garden, BBQ area with fire pits, and a fishing pond.
While Patriots’ Hall of Dripping Springs is the first of its kind, the board already states it won’t be a one-of-a-kind. If you’d like to help make PHDS a reality, please visit the Patriots’ Hall of Dripping Springs donate page.