History of Veterans Campground on Big Marine Lake

In 1926, the Disabled Veterans Rest Camp (DVRC) started from a local farm that was donated to help disabled veterans recover from World War I. The original main farmhouse was converted to a dormitory-type house for these shell-shocked veterans. During WW II, shell-shocked was called battle fatigue; today it is called post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Through the years the camp’s main focus of providing rest and recreation for military and veterans has not changed, only the names of the campground and of disabled veterans’ afflictions.

Today the campground is open to all military veterans who are currently serving or have been Honorably Discharged, veteran families, and sponsored guests of the veteran. The campground has a wide variety of recreational activities for the entire family, to include camping (cabins, tents, and RV sites), boating, fishing, tubing, swimming, softball, volleyball, horseshoes, canteen, game room, lending library, and a spacious outdoor pavilions for parties, reunions, gatherings, and picnics.

Yellow Ribbon Campground

In January 2010, Veterans Campground on Big Marine Lake was recognized and awarded Yellow Ribbon status by Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and the military’s Yellow Ribbon Committee. This is significant, as Yellow Ribbon communities and organizations are those that have demonstrated the purposeful commitment to helping military members transition back to citizens while supporting military families. The rest and recovery the camp provides in a recreational environment aids veterans in reconnecting with family life. Being designated a Yellow Ribbon campground is both an honor and a call to keep veterans, military members, and their families the continued focus of our mission. Veterans Campground is the only and “original” Yellow Ribbon campground, as we have been assisting military veterans since 1926.


2010 Yellow Ribbon Proclamation presented by MN Governor Tim Pawlenty and Commissioner of Military Affairs Major General Larry Shellito to camp board members Lori Ahlness, Gary Kriesel, and Al Mitchell.


2015 Veterans Campground volunteers Ken Gibson, Dick Glasgow, Lori Ahlness, Chuck Cronquist, and Sheldon Sandmann present Washington County Commissioners with a panoramic aerial photo of the campground, located in Washington County.

Camping and Recreation for All

Veterans Campground is open to all Honorably discharged military veterans: active duty, Guard/Reserves, veterans, retired, disabled, and military families. As a 501(c)(3) non-profit, the campground relies on donations and volunteers to host many of its annual activities (fishing and boating outings, picnics, children’s activities, fundraisers, etc.) that provide rest and recreation. Since the Global War on Terrorism, younger veterans and their families are joining Vietnam, Korean, and World War II-era veterans at the camp for camaraderie, family fun and recreation. This greater demand required a large expansion and renovation of the camp beginning in 2010 through today, incurring increased costs to our operating budget. As a non-profit organization, donations and grants are welcomed and greatly appreciated.