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By Jason Jowers, MS, MFT

Soldiers in Line to Get in a Plane

On a recent flight home, I had the privilege of sitting next to a military service member returning home from a 6-month deployment. We made small talk, and she shared that her husband was also in the service and that they both got deployed around the same time, to separate locations in two different countries. Her husband had been deployed for four 4 months and would be waiting for her at the airport.

There were several service members on that flight, and once we landed, as my wife was waiting for me at baggage claim, we were witness to a full “welcome home” group of spouses, kids, and other service members for those returning home from deployment. It was a very happy, yet emotional scene that I felt very privileged to witness. I later remarked to my wife that I couldn’t imagine being separated from her for 6 months and it gave me a greater appreciation for the sacrifices our military service members and their families make on an everyday basis.

This experience got me thinking about ways in which we as service providers can support military service members and their families to reintegrate, reconnect, and find rest for a new normal of being together again after a long deployment cycle. There are, in fact, organizations out there that provide therapeutic retreats for active-duty service members, military veterans, and their families. I wanted to share a little about these retreats.

The first is Boulder Crest whose mission statement includes, “Boulder Crest understands the sacrifices and stresses of military and veteran families. We believe that each family member plays a crucial role in the health and well-being of the entire family.” Boulder Crest is an organization that provides a place where “families can relax, reconnect, and restore connections in private, peaceful resort settings in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia or at a historic homestead near Tucson, Arizona while receiving the 5-star treatment they deserve. The stresses and distractions of daily life are left behind and they can focus on the present.” For more on Boulder Crest and its unique approach centered around posttraumatic growth, listen to our podcast episode “Walking the PATHH: Exploring the Journey of Posttraumatic Growth” with Boulder Crest CEO, Josh Goldberg.

Next is Project Sanctuary, a therapeutic retreat that is a comprehensive evidence-based program treating the entire family, active-duty service members from all branches of the military, and veterans from all eras of service. “Project Sanctuary hosts therapeutic retreats in five states across the country that are staffed and designed by Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists, licensed counselors, and social workers. Retreats are open to active-duty service members, veterans, Guard and Reserve families from all branches of the military and all eras.  All families, including the LGBTQ+ community, are welcome at our retreats.” You can have military service members and their families sign up on this Project Sanctuary webpage.

Finally, not exactly a retreat, but a quick and easy way to provide help to service members and their families, Military OneSource provides peer-to-peer support and free specialty consultations. “Service members and their spouses are eligible to receive Military OneSource confidential peer-to-peer specialty consultations during the military member’s active service and up to 365 days after separation from the military.”

Interacting with military service members, their families, and loved ones can give us a greater appreciation for the work they do and the sacrifices they make. We as service providers should do our very best to support and provide care for military families.

Cover Image: Pixabay [Soldiers in Line to Get in a Plane, October 11th, 2017, CC0]