The Retreat’s breakthrough approach to PTSD and combat-related stress is worth replicating, according to the American Psychological Association’s The Military Psychologist
In the three years since opening, Boulder Crest Retreat for Military and Veteran Wellness has served more than 2,100 combat veterans and their family members. The Virginia-based retreat – the nation’s first privately-funded wellness center dedicated exclusively to combat veterans and their families – serves as a proving ground for a new and innovative approach to PTSD and combat stress.
In the recently-released summer edition of The Military Psychologist, a publication of the American Psychological Association’s military chapter, Dr. Richard Tedeschi and Dr. Bret Moore noted that, “We have found BCR to be unique in the level of comprehensive care it provides. We are also impressed with the potential the program has become a model for establishing and developing effective grassroots community based programs for veterans and family members.”
“With an estimated 700,000 combat veterans and approximately 1.4 million family members in need of support, we know that one location is not sufficient,” explains Ken Falke, chairman and founder of Boulder Crest Retreat. “Our programs and overall approach is replicable across the country, and based on our nation’s veteran populations, we hope to expand to at least nine more communities. We are grateful for the recognition from The Military Psychologist which speaks to how we can best serve those who have served us all.”
Boulder Crest Retreat honors its mission of healing heroes, one family a time, through its two, free signature programs – PATHH (Progressive and Alternative Training for Healing Heroes) and Family Rest Reconnection Retreats.
“It is now beyond question that the current, mainstream approaches to PTSD and combat stress are not as effective as they need be,” explains Josh Goldberg, director of strategy at Boulder Crest Retreat. “Our approach is based on a military styled training for posttraumatic growth (PTG). Our programs are designed and delivered by combat veterans for combat veterans, and feature extensive follow-on support. We are currently seven months in to an 18-month program evaluation and study and extremely happy with the preliminary results and we appreciate this early external validation of our efforts.”
The Military Psychologist feature article on Boulder Crest Retreat noted a number of differentiators that make the Retreat’s work worth replicating:
- Combat veterans serve in leadership and staff positions.
- The organization is led by Ken Falke, who possesses outstanding leadership and organizational capabilities and a track record of success in both for-profit and nonprofit work.
- All members of staff believe deeply in the power of combat veterans and are passionate about the opportunity to serve the community.
- “Unlike many clinic-based programs run by mental health professionals, at BCR, there is very little sense of separateness between program participants and staff. It is an environment that is often characterized by participants as ‘being home and surrounded by loved ones.’”
- Peaceful, rural setting allows for greater connection, focus, and reflection.
- The staff is engaged with participants throughout the day (0730-2030), from meals to therapeutic training sessions.
- The approach is growth-oriented and focuses on thriving post-combat rather than just living or existing.
- Strong partnerships with community organizations across the country.
- Extensive follow-on support to sustain benefits of short-duration, high-impact programs.
“We see the benefits of our peaceful setting and intensive, loving approach every single day,” adds Falke. “It is a tribute to the remarkable work, passion, and commitment of every member of our team that their efforts are recognized as a model for other communities. It is further proof that what we are doing is making a lasting impact on those we serve.”
The Military Psychologist reported that up to one third of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans battle some form of psychological ailment as a result of their service, including around 15 percent who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Once combat veterans depart BCR, they are supported for 18 months through videoconferences, conference calls, and a leading-edge technology platform – MY PATHH. This allows students to navigate re-entry and ensures they can thrive and continue to be the service-oriented leaders we desperately need here at home.
As the nation’s first privately funded wellness center dedicated exclusively to combat veterans and their families, Boulder Crest Retreat has developed the nation’s first non-clinical curriculum for combat stress, leveraging our breakthrough and innovative Warrior PATHH program. This effort will ensure that Warrior PATHH can be delivered in communities across the nation and also support our efforts to create similar world-class Retreats in communities featuring heavy concentrations of veterans. Boulder Crest Retreat is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization that is funded entirely by private donations by individuals and organizations from around the country. For more information about the retreat, please go to www.bouldercrestretreat.org. View a video about the Boulder Crest Retreat here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KztgmScOQLw.