With all that veterans do and sacrifice to defend the country, these brave men and women need a place to recharge their batteries when they return home. In response to this need, veterans retreats are opening all across the country, aimed at providing a serene environment to help veterans find some peace of mind. Many communities even host fundraising events to assist veterans in covering the cost of a stay at the retreat.
Why veterans retreats are important
Being an active duty service member can be a grueling and exhausting experience. This is compounded when soldiers enter into combat zones, come under fire from enemy troops or live through other dangerous situations. Due to this, many returning troops come back from deployment with physical and emotional tolls that need to be addressed. Whether soldiers come home with a life-long disability, or suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, it's important that they seek out the best ways to heal their body and mind.
In some instances, veterans rely on medication to help them deal with depression, anxiety, sleeplessness and physical pain. In addition to pharmaceutical solutions, veterans retreats offer a complementary way to help these individuals with the healing process.
What kinds of veterans retreats exist?
In recent years, there's been a surge in the number of retreat options for veterans, with many of them focusing specifically on a particular subset or group of veterans, such as disabled soldiers or those with families.
For instance, Operation We Are Here lists more than 60 different retreats all geared solely for veterans that provide support for caregivers, female veterans, PTSD, civilian reintegration, traumatic brain injury (TBI) and wounded warriors. These retreats come with a range of therapeutic opportunities at certain locations, including:
- Horseback riding
- Hyperbarbic oxygen therapy (HBOT)
- Healing arts (art, dance, film, theater, writing)
- Outdoor activities (white water rafting, scuba diving, sporting events, fishing, etc)
- Service dogs, therapy dogs and companion pets
- Volunteering and community service
While some veterans retreats do cost money, a large percentage of them are absolutely free for veterans, and sometimes for their families too. Each one focuses on its singular mission, which means there are specific retreats for nearly all aspects of life. Similarly, each location is unique.
"A large number of veterans retreats are actually free."
One example, Project Sanctuary, aims to help veterans transition from battle-ready to family-ready by addressing three areas: counseling, education and therapeutic recreation.
Another retreat, a 277-acre property in Franklinville, New Jersey, is currently building 60 microhousing units (tiny houses) for veterans to spend 24 months at the compound and rehabilitate themselves upon their return from deployment. The retreat, which its founder, Donnie Davis, intends to be free of charge for veterans, will also provide soldiers with work skills and the opportunity to undergo equine therapy.
Many retreats cater specifically to wounded veterans, but each one brings its own unique perspective to this endeavor. For instance, veterans who like to be active can check out Combat Veterans Sports Foundation, which provides wounded combat veterans with the opportunity to volunteer through professional sports organizations. Another, Fairways for Warriors, offers golf equipment, instructions and outings for wounded veterans and their families.
While many soldiers will no doubt say they don't know the meaning of the word "retreat" in the context of a battle, there are plenty of ways attending a retreat can help heal these individuals, both physically and emotionally.