Illinois veteran shares ‘Dude’s Playground’ to help others with mental health

News


WATERLOO, Ill.– Disabled military veterans fighting mental battles can find relief at a nature retreat in Waterloo, Il called Dude’s Playground. Guests enjoy a day of fishing, a hot meal, and the company of others looking for relief.

Richard Melching turned his property at 5301 Kaskaskia Rd. in Waterloo, IL into a therapeutic oasis where he hosts occasional retreats for anyone with mental health struggles.

Melching suffers from migraines that can last for weeks.  At one point, he felt the pain was more than he could handle.

“I walked up a flight of stairs, got into my gun cabinet and put a gun in my mouth,“ said Melching.

He sought medical help for his depression.  Melching now hosts occasional retreats for fellow veterans with struggles.

“You hear the waterfall, the birds, the smell of the lake and the peacefulness here,” said disabled veteran Bob Weigand. “It’s just like therapy for me.”

Weigand said his visits to Dude’s Playground clear troubling thoughts in mind following his military service in Vietnam. The name for the retreat came from Melching’s dog.

“Everyone loves Dude,” said Melching.  “He loves to fish.  As soon as someone gets one on the line, he’s right there.

Melching continues to live with his own mental struggles.  He hopes others facing similar challenges realize they can find help.

“I don’t get to the point where I’m too proud to ask for help,” said Melching.  “I’m a proud man, but I know when it’s time.”

Melching has been hosting veterans for several years.  A ramp allows anyone using a wheelchair to easily access a landing area where visitors can fish and enjoy food and drinks.

He is still in the process of trying to build a separate building with bathrooms and is looking for help from anyone wanting to support his efforts.

Anyone interested in learning more about Dude’s Playground can find information on Dude’s Playground’s Facebook page or be emailing Dude’s Playground at DudePlayground@gmail.com.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

About FOX 2 News

FOX 2 and KPLR 11 in St. Louis cover the news in Missouri and Illinois. There are over 68 hours of live news and local programming on-air each week. Our website and live video streams operate 24/7. Download our apps for alerts and follow us on social media for updates in your feed.

President Harry Truman said: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” That spirit is alive and well at Fox 2. Our teamwork is on display each and every day.

Our news slogan is: “Coverage You Can Count On.” We quite frankly are too busy to worry about who gets the credit. Our main concern is serving the viewer.

We go where the stories take us. Whether it be Washington, D.C when a Belleville man opened fire during a congressional baseball game practice or to Puerto Rico where local Ameren crews restored power after more than 5 months in the dark.

Coverage You Can Count On means “Waking up your Day” with our top-rated morning show. From 4:00 am-10:00 am we are leading the way with breaking news. But our early morning crew also knows how to have some fun! Our strong commitment to the communities we serve is highlighted with our Friday neighborhood shows.

Our investigative unit consists of three reporters. Elliott Davis focuses on government waste, Chris Hayes is our investigative reporter, and Mike Colombo is our consumer reporter. They work in unison with the news department by sharing resources and ideas.

We continue to cover breaking news aggressively and relied on our seasoned journalists to make a difference with the stories we covered. The shooting of Arnold Police Officer Ryan O’Connor is just one example of that. Jasmine Huda was the only reporter who had exclusive access to the O’Connor family during his amazing rehabilitation in Colorado.

Last, but certainly not least, FOX 2 and KPLR 11 are committed to covering local politics. We host debates among candidates and have the most extensive presidential election coverage. Our commitment to politics isn’t just during an election year. We produce two political shows that air every weekend.

Popular

Latest News

More News