This year, 2016, marks America’s 15th consecutive year of war – the longest stretch of conflict in our nation’s history. Fortunately, a grateful and generous American public continues to honor the service and sacrifice of not only our military members, but also their families, evidenced by donations to many great nonprofit organizations and civilians thanking service members and veterans for their service.
Although this represents a marked and necessary improvement from how Vietnam veterans were greeted, quite frankly, it is just not enough. All of us – military, veteran and civilian – can do more and can do better. Boulder Crest Retreat for Military and Veteran Wellness is committed to doing precisely that.
“I grew up in Alexandria, Virginia during the Vietnam War and remember clearly how these men and women were treated upon their returns. Many of my childhood mentors and our community leaders to include my Boy Scoutmasters were Vietnam veterans,” explains Ken Falke, chairman and founder of the Boulder Crest Retreat. “And after visiting hundreds of severely wounded warriors in the hospitals over the last fifteen years, there was no way I could sit back and not be a part of ensuring we did not repeat the Vietnam homecoming for today’s generation of warriors.
Every year, approximately 200,000 veterans transition out of the military, and far too many are struggling. We know that today’s military is the most professional and capable force in the history of our nation, and that our service members and veterans possess a sense of strength, service, teamwork and insistence on getting things done that is rare and remarkable. If we all play our part, we can ensure that we unlock their potential and tap into men and women who should be leaders in communities, businesses and governments across the country.
Here are a few tips for communities and transitioning military personnel to make this vision a reality:
- For Communities:
- Understand that transitioning military personnel have been through the toughest of times on today’s battlefield, and they are not broken.
- Don’t pity military personnel or their families.
- Hire veterans and provide meaningful employment and clarity. Veterans know what good and bad leadership is.
- Rebuke community veteran groups that continue to spread the “veterans are broken” story.
- For our military and veteran personnel:
- Maintain whole person wellness that includes mind, body, spirit, and financial wellness.
- Set realistic goals and work hard to achieve them.
- Work towards harnessing the power of your experience – both the good and the bad – by creating a positive story about your life and giving back to those in your community that need help.
- Maintain your military bearing long after service.
“Life is hard. Transition is hard for everyone whether military or civilian,” adds Falke. “I am honored to share my personal experiences in the work we do here at Boulder Crest Retreat for Military and Veteran Wellness and we have a very seasoned staff of professionals that are experts in their fields.”
“Every community in our country is in desperate need of leadership. We need veterans to come home and be productive members of society here, just like they were on the battlefield. If we, as individuals and communities, do what is necessary, there is no limit to what these men and women can accomplish,” says Josh Goldberg, director of strategy at Boulder Crest Retreat. “In the aftermath of World War II, a generation of veterans came home and led an American renaissance across every facet of our society. Our post-9/11 veterans are the heir to that incredible legacy – and there is every reason to believe they represent our Next Greatest Generation.
As the nation’s first privately funded wellness center dedicated exclusively to combat veterans and their families, Boulder Crest Retreat is taking a leadership role in developing a comprehensive strategy to ensure that the road home from war is a journey filled with growth, purpose and continued service at home. Boulder Crest Retreat is developing 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.
The Retreat welcomes combat veterans who are active-duty, reserve and National Guard, veterans, family members and caregivers, and Gold Star Families. 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. For more information about Boulder Crest Retreat, please visit http://www.bouldercrestretreat.org.