Sober Housing for Vets to Feature Hydroponics, Companion Dogs

Plans are to convert this farm site near Wells into a spiritual sober housing complex. The house would be renovated to provide 13 private rooms for veterans while the former hydroponic operation, shown in the upper left, would be renovated for the men staying there to work in.

WELLS — By early next year, a farm site near Wells is slated to offer sober housing for 13 military veterans, who will be able to work in an on-site hydroponic operation, bond with retired military companion dogs and get counseling and support.

Bravo Zulu House will accept men who are veterans, over age 40, and who go through an evaluation and agree to attend a certain number of 12-step meetings each week and work or volunteer 30 hours a week.

(For more information and photos of the Wells site and program or to donate, go to:

“Most of the guys we get are coming out of treatment programs like Hazelden,” said Tim Murray, who with the late Col. Father Martin Fleming founded Trinity Sober Homes in 2011.

They have three sober homes in St. Paul that house 41 men and operate a spiritual weekend retreat center near New Richland, where Murray is based.

He said they have a unique model that includes spiritual guidance, mental health counseling, 24/7 onsite staff, private rooms, transportation to 12-step programs and VA medical appointments and local volunteer opportunities.

“You don’t have to be Catholic, just believe in a higher power,” he said of the men who stay with them.

Murray said those living at the sober homes live there an average of 18 months, which is considerably longer than the six-month stays at most residential centers in the state.

Murray said the environment they use results in 71% of residents remaining sober after one year. That’s nearly 50% higher than other programs and Trinity has had that rate of success for over a decade.

Murray said other treatment centers around the state recommend the Trinity houses because of their work with veterans and because many of those who finish shorter-term treatment look for spiritual-based, longer-term transitional living before they “move onto their new lives,” Murray said.

Murray got help from Fleming, who died in 2018, when he hit rock bottom years ago.

A successful businessman and entrepreneur, Murray’s life spiraled out of control. “For a variety of reasons, I became a full-time drunk at age 50,” said the 64-year-old Murray. “That’s when I ended up on Father Fleming’s steps.”

Fleming had worked on addiction recovery programs since the 1980s and Murray lived at one of Fleming’s sober houses for nearly three years during his recovery. Later Fleming asked Murray to help him create sober housing aimed at veterans, an extension of the other sobriety recovery work Fleming had previously done.

Murray said many of the programs for veterans are focused on treating their PTSD. But he said a majority of PTSD sufferers are addicted to drugs and alcohol, which he said must be addressed for their long-range success to happen.

Murray and others are currently raising money for the Wells project. The budget includes $635,000 to purchase the farm and remodel the large home.

They will spend another $250,000 to restart a hydroponic operation that’s located on the farm site, $115,000 to build a kennel and clean up the farm and $125,000 to hire and train a full time staff.

He hopes to have the house open in January of next year.

Chris W., an attorney in recovery from the Twin Cities, went to Hazelden treatment center and then lived at St. Michael’s, one of the Trinity homes in St. Paul, from the spring of 2020 until October of 2021.

“It was very much a life saver for me. I’m very dedicated to their mission and became a good friend with Tim,” he said.

He said the fact the homes cater only to those over 40 was helpful. He is 53.

“For those of us who had to face our addictions a little later in life it’s a little different.”

He said St. Mike’s didn’t have a lot of strict rules. “You’re an adult and are treated like an adult and if you don’t act like one you don’t get to live there.

“It’s individual rooms, where other places you share a room, so there’s an element of dignity with that.”

He even had a small office attached to his room where he began to rebuild his private law practice. “My law practice, which had been very successful, was in flames and I was able to use the office to start to resurrect my career.”

He said the spiritual aspect and support from others in the sober home worked well for him.

Source: Mankato Free Press by Tim Krohn