May is Military Appreciation Month and Mental Health Month. This makes for the ideal month to celebrate the courage and sacrifice of our service members, veterans, and their families, while focusing on the invisible injuries that many face after 15 years of war. Many come back with home with mental health issues that go unseen and can have a devastating impact on their health and the lives of those near them.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, between 11-20 percent of those who deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan return home with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Over the last several years, it is abundantly clear that the current approach to addressing PTSD does not work. The New York Times recently reported that, “A 2014 study of 204,000 veterans, in The Journal of the American Psychological Association, found nearly two-thirds of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans stopped VA therapy for PTSD within a year, before completing the treatment. A smaller study from the same year found about 90 percent dropped out of therapy.” Further research reported in August 2015, when the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that, “There is an urgent need for innovative treatment strategies [for PTSD amongst service members and veterans].”
“The current approach focuses far too much on managing and mitigating struggle rather than recognizing its inherent power,” explains Ken Falke, chairman and founder of Boulder Crest Retreat and a combat veteran. “As combat veterans, we know that what does not kill us makes us stronger. We realize that times of deep struggle cultivate reservoirs of profound strength – that is how the military has trained us and what combat forged in us.”
The key to a successful and innovative approach to PTSD and combat-related stress is to recognize the power of struggle, and its potential to nurture growth and transformation. This concept – known as Post Traumatic Growth – is the foundation for all of the programs at Boulder Crest Retreat, and has a unique resonance with service members, veterans, and their family members.
“Combat veterans represent the strongest among us,” continued Falke. “We possess unique skills, strengths, and abilities that are seldom seen and desperately needed here at home. In order to unlock that potential, it is critical that we provide combat veterans with the opportunity to take a knee, make peace with their past, and begin planning for a great life – full of passion, purpose, and service – here at home.”
Boulder Crest Retreat is developing the nation’s first-ever comprehensive, non-clinical curriculum based on Post Traumatic Growth, leveraging 2.5 years of experience and success and over 30 years of research. This effort – inclusive of a comprehensive training program, robust program evaluation, and a technology platform – will ensure that a new approach, focused on strength and solutions, can be adopted across the country.
“Thousands of years of history teach us that struggle is a terrible thing to waste,” explains Josh Goldberg, director of strategy at Boulder Crest Retreat. “Struggle allows us to dive deeply within ourselves and begin to ask and answer deep and profound questions about life: who we are and what we want our life to be about. Our PATHH programs are focused on providing the skills and training required to transform struggle into deep and lasting strength.”
“We are in desperate need of people with strength, leadership skills, and the capacity to get things done here at home,” added Falke. “We have before us 2.7 million men and women who represent the most battle-tested generation of warriors in the history of our nation. If we get this right, we will unlock their potential in families and communities across this nation. We know that our PATHH programs have a proven ability to do just that and look forward to expanding our efforts across the country.”
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.View a video about Boulder Crest Retreat.
ABOUT BOULDER CREST RETREAT
Boulder Crest Retreat for Military and Veteran Wellness is a rural sanctuary that provides free accommodations, recreational and therapeutic activities and programs to help our nation’s military and veteran personnel and their families recover and reconnect during their long journey of healing from physical and invisible wounds of war. The 37-acre retreat is located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Bluemont, Virginia, just 50 miles west of Washington, D.C. The Retreat is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and is entirely funded through private donations from individuals, foundations and corporations. For more information about Boulder Crest Retreat, please visit http://www.bouldercrestretreat.org.