From the outside looking in, Project Sanctuary may seem like an organization that simply provides fun retreats for military families – a time for families to have a vacation together river rafting, horseback riding and enjoying six days in the wilderness. Free vacation, right?! Wrong. What you don’t see is what’s healing and transforming the families—it’s what’s happening “behind” the pictures and fun activities that makes the difference.
We aren’t a free vacation—we’re the last chance for healing for some families.
What outsiders looking in don’t see is the transformative moments shared by military couples during their healthy marriage class. Or the powerful stories shared in the PTSD class that bring veterans and military spouses to tears—healing tears…change-your-life-forever tears.
You aren’t seeing the therapeutic moments when families meet with one of our counselors to heal an unseen wound. Our retreat pictures can’t show you how much a veteran or family transforms from being angry, emotionally closed off and without hope to becoming the family that learns to laugh together again and gives each other hugs. It’s in these moments that families’ lives change forever.
Here’s one military spouse’s experience of how her family was transformed by our program this summer:
“I can't begin to tell you how much how thankful we are that we were able to be on your last retreat. Your staff is amazing and really an incredible group of people. Our family immediately connected with so many and felt at home. For a long time it has felt like our family was holding our breath and after this week it is as if we are finally able to let that go and breathe once again. Leaving the retreat it was as if I finally was able to wrap my brain around everything that our family has been through and see it through new eyes. Thank you for helping us find ways to communicate and cope with those things that we struggle with so often. It was completely different than anything the VA has ever offered or suggested. I really can't say thank you enough. I thank God that you have made a foundation like this for families like ours that needed some hope. You helped give us our lives back and for that we are truly grateful…. My husband loved it so much, he wants to come back and volunteer. Again, thank you so much for seeing a need and doing something about it. So many just turn a blind eye or label service members. I can't tell you how many times I have had people snap judge us or tell me that they wished my husband would die over there. It was awful not having support. Thank you again for changing that all for us.”
Our military family retreats are just the launch point of our two-year mental health program. This retreat gives families a “reboot” and equips them with the skills needed to continue healing and transforming even when they get home. We follow up with all of our families and provide a customized two-year program based on their individualized needs.