Jacob Inman helped his father Zach Inman find the Linneus property that will become the Veterans Sanctuary. Credit: Courtesy of Zach Inman

LINNEUS, Maine — Zach Inman is living in a 34-foot camping trailer in Linneus for the summer while he clears five of his 128 acres between Mud Pond and Beaver Brook Pond to build an off-the-grid veterans sanctuary.

Inman has operated a construction business in Las Vegas for 31 years. And when his son Jacob Inman, a disabled veteran, asked him to do something to help struggling veterans, Inman told him to find the property and he would buy it.

After a national search, Jacob found the Linneus property, just 15 minutes from where Inman grew up. Inman purchased 128 acres for $68,500, he said, adding that 10 of those will be dedicated to the sanctuary.

The sanctuary is designed to help veterans decompress, work on their physical and mental needs and learn trade skills to help them with new career choices.

“My son gets disability (payments) and the GI Bill and he is in college,” he said. “But he watched his friends go through homelessness, drugs and suicide. He said, ‘Dad, we have to do something.’”

Combat veterans are significantly more likely to say their readjustment was difficult. Forty-six percent of those with some combat experience, compared with 18 percent of those without it, describe their readjustment to civilian life as difficult, according to a Pew Charitable Trust Research Center survey.

Additionally, those who had traumatic experiences related to their military service are the most likely to say the transition to civilian life was difficult, the survey said.

Zach Inman with his son Jacob who inspired the Veterans Sanctuary project in Linneus. Credit: Courtesy of Zach Inman

Currently, Inman has cleared five acres and is planning to build several cabins this summer for veterans to come hang out and find some peace, he said.

Eventually, he will construct facilities and housing for veterans to stay for about six months where they can be away from distractions and feel the peace of the land, he said.

There will be some larger cabins for veterans with families.

The veterans will do chores and begin learning a trade during their stay at the sanctuary to help them get back into the workforce, Inman said.

Zach Inman with his son Lucas at the South Career Technical Academy in Nevada. Zach Inman is building a veterans sanctuary in Linneus and will offer trade education to veterans. Credit: Courtesy of Zach Inman

“They will get their room and board and we will teach them new skills,” he said, pointing to several trades, such as farming, woodworking, firefighting and law enforcement. “Our whole objective is to get them back into the workforce.”

The cabins will be equipped for people who have disabilities, and he hopes to eventually offer counseling services on site.

He hopes the sanctuary will not only help veterans get back to work but also get reacquainted with life at home. There will be recreational activities such as fishing, camping and archery.

There will be no firearms or firearm hunting on the land out of respect to veterans with PTSD, Inman said. ​

Veterans Sanctuary Foundation founder Zach Inman, left thanks Corey Johnson in Las Vegas for a $1,000 donation to the foundation. Credit: Courtesy of Zach Inman

The veterans sanctuary is under the Veteran’s Sanctuary Foundation that Inman founded. He has put close to $100,000 into the project and just recently raised another $30,000 in Las Vegas.

But the foundation will also need to apply for grant funding to complete what he hopes will be a place that offers struggling and invisible veterans an opportunity to thrive.

“I can’t do it alone, but we can do it together,” he  said.

To contact the Veterans Sanctuary Foundation, Bugoutvsf.org, 702-468-2704.

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Kathleen Phalen Tomaselli

Kathleen Phalen Tomaselli is a reporter covering the Houlton area. Over the years, she has covered crime, investigations, health, politics and local government, writing for the Washington Post, the LA...