CALDWELL -- All year long, a Caldwell family dedicates their time to giving back to those who put their lives on the line for our country.
The Meholchicks open up their ranch, Juniper Ranch, in Caldwell twice a year to veterans from the VA Medical Center and Idaho State Veterans Home for a fun day of fishing and chowing down some home-made chili.
As a wounded combat veteran himself, Stan Meholchick can relate to the struggles vets and active duty military experience. So he and his wife, Jeanie, want to give veterans a day to get away and spend time in the beautiful outdoors in their oasis.
"The objective is to have active duty military team up with the veteran patients from home and hospital and then they just have a good day of fishing try to catch the biggest fish eat some of Stan's excellent homemade chili," Jeanie said. "It's our way of giving."
The Meholchicks want to help provide a relaxing escape, and they've found that for veterans spending time at Juniper Ranch can be healing and uplifting. Jeanie and Stan host events at their ranch for military members all year long with Tuesday's event helping vets from the veterans home and VA Medical Center.
"We're pretty much busy all the time with veterans groups here," Stan said. "I'm a disabled vet myself and a lot of the guys at the Veterans Administration helped me years ago. I am a Vietnam vet and I asked years ago how can I return the favor? And basically, that's how it started."
The Meholchicks say Department of Labor representatives came out to connect military members just getting out of the service with jobs and resources.
"We like to keep the veterans' issues fresh in everyone's mind," Jeanie added.
This twice-a-year chili feed and fishing trip wouldn't be possible without the help of volunteers from different organizations and branches of service.
"They call this their sanctuary. And for our vets in the home and the hospital, they may not get a lot of family and friends that come and visit them. They have a lot of medical burdens and so on, so they're able to come out here and fish and have a good time and hopefully be able to shed some of their burdens and have a great time with our active duty military - the folks that really understand," Jeanie said.
The couple started doing this event in 1994, and it started with a half dozen guys. It's grown so much that they serve around 175 to 225 pounds of chili now. They're hosting their next event out at Juniper Ranch on September 11.