Jason Corthell, full-time division chief for the Cypress Creek Fire Department, founded Guardian Grounds Ranch with his wife, Patricia Corthell, in early 2024 to help heal veterans, first responders and their families.

“I speak nationally on mental wellness for first responders and veterans being a first responder myself, and I thought it was time to do something more than just talk about it,” Jason Corthell said.

About the program

Serving the Cypress and Fort Worth area, the nonprofit is in its early stages and is funded by private donors, fundraising efforts and partnerships including its most recent with the Houston Roughnecks.

“Our mission is actually pretty simple; it’s healing veterans and first responders through the power of nature and relationship. That's our actual mission statement and our practice mission statement,” Jason Corthell said.

He said Guardian Grounds Ranch strives to serve veterans and first responders nationwide and is beginning its efforts in Texas. The nonprofit offers free fishing and hunting services in Bay City, Navasota River and Lindale.

The organization's main cabin is located in Lindale and offers a 4,000-square-foot space with several outdoor activities for first responders and veterans, These include camping and fishing as well as peer support group services and professional counseling services.

“We have peer support group specialists that are certified—myself being one of them—to kind of walk through life with these guys and gals that are struggling,” Jason Corthell said.

Looking ahead

Although the initial idea was to provide a space where veterans and first responders could come out with their families and enjoy a weekend in nature free of charge, Jason Corthell said he and his wife decided to expand the ranch with a mental wellness facility that is slated to be available by 2026.

“Our end goal is to make sure that we have a facility on-site that's free of charge to be used for the veterans and first responders that are experiencing some mental health deficits,” he said.

The mental health facility will offer inpatient therapy and outpatient day counseling programs.

Jason Corthell said the nonprofit is focusing on aiding both veterans and first responders due to the similarities in mental health deficiencies caused while in combat and in traumas experienced by first responders daily.

“Even though these things are symptomatic of something completely different, it's all coming to the same place. It's all coming to mental mental health deficiencies,” he said.

Guardian Grounds Ranch is looking for land for the expansion and is collaborating with several leaders and organizations that have recognized their mission. Organizations the ranch has partnered with include Camp Comrade, Wm. S. Cannon & Associates LLC, Creekwood Grill, Shield Bearer Counseling Centers and the Cypress Creek Fire Department.

“We lose about 6,500 veterans and first responders every year to suicide, Jason Corthell said. That number is atrocious. That's just the ones that get reported."