Counting Stars Ranch offers veterans lodging, meals, fishing and fellowship

Published: Mar. 26, 2023 at 5:22 PM CDT
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UPSHUR COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) - A veterans dream, to offer a place where fellow veterans can find friends and healing, is a reality in one East Texas county.

Just north of Ore city in Upshur County is a quiet place called ‘Counting Stars Ranch.’

“It’s helped me out a lot since I’ve gotten out and found this place with my wife. Peaceful and relaxing,” said army veteran John Riley.

The invention of David and Vicky Smithers, David being an army veteran himself, the ranch was developed to offer lodging, meals, fishing and fellowship to veterans and first responders who need it.

“David found peace, quiet and just a lot of healing. And he didn’t want to keep it to himself. He wanted to share it with others,” Vicky says.

“This place is phenomenal. Great place to come out and enjoy time with your family and veterans,” said army veteran Lynn Keesee.

“This is my first time out here, I wanted to come and see what its about. The thing I like about it is it’s not just for the guys, it’s for their families, and helps. A lot of them have problems even connecting with their family when they get back,” said Air Force veteran Roger Fangman.

“I see the mom’s and dad’s who need to talk, with other mom’s and dad’s, and I actually see real healing,” David says.

Particularly those who suffer from PTSD.

“A morale booster. It really helps you go through a hard time getting out. And a lot of it gets taken out on your family and loved ones, and this is where you can reconnect with them,” said army veteran Sean Cheker.

Seeing first hand how the ranch has been beneficial in helping veterans, is heart-wrenching for Smithers.

“No matter how dark it is, you can come back from that,” said David.

Work is ongoing to build more cabins on the ranch to accommodate more visitors.