Military Family Appreciation Month: Spotlight on the Gooch Family

Project Sanctuary has teamed up with 99.5 The Mountain this June for Military Family Appreciation Month! Tune in all month long to hear from Project Sanctuary families (and of course, some great music from the folks at 99.5!).

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Each week, we’re featuring a Project Sanctuary graduate family. This week we’re saluting the Gooch Family in Colorado Springs, CO. Kimberly and Erin Gooch are stationed at Fort Carson with their four children. We’ll let Kimberly take it from here.

military family portrait therapeutic retreat
The Gooch Family at Retreat 172 in Granby, Colorado.

My name is Kimberly and I’m a runner and full time Department of Defense employee of Fort Carson Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation. My husband Erin has been active duty Army for 12 years and is currently a Chief Warrant Officer 2, Apache Helicopter Pilot.

Before Erin was a pilot, he was enlisted in Civil Affairs and was a Patriot Missile Operator. We’ve been together for four years, but were recently married in May 2018. In addition to the challenges of being a military family, we are also a blended family. Our children are 10, 9, 7 and 6 years old.

We were stationed to Fort Carson, Colorado, in August of 2018. Just a few weeks later, with boxes of household goods to still be unpacked, Erin was deployed to Afghanistan. I was left with four kids (two of whom were new step-children to me) in a new city, across the country from any family.

Erin and I were across the world from each other and in completely different situations, but facing similar challenges. He was new to the aviation community and I was new to Fort Carson and a brand new step-mom. We were both meeting new people and learning to take on new roles. The life that we had built together over the last three years was rapidly changing.

Upon his return, we were in the “honeymoon stage” and elated to be together again, but life with four kids and a full-time job doesn’t slow down because “daddy is home!”

We applied for a Project Sanctuary retreat before Erin had even returned home. We knew we were going to need a safe place away from everything to literally retreat from the world around us. About three weeks after Erin returned home, we were headed to YMCA of the Rockies for Retreat #172 in Granby, Colorado.

Project Sanctuary immediately encouraged us to “unplug” and we did. Instead of scrolling social media, we were talking and communicating with each other and the kids. In the evenings, we played games and hung out with our kids. When they went to bed, Erin and I stayed up talking for hours without the pressure of cleaning house and doing laundry. We were able to go ice fishing and ride snow mobiles and spend time with the kids in ways that we normally wouldn’t be able to do.

In addition to making memories with the kids, we probably benefited the most from the group conversations during class time. We met couples who were all facing similar issues that we were. We all sat in a living room and were able to discuss the hardships of deployment from both downrange and the home front. For once, we were able to sit and talk in a room full of people and we felt “normal.” 

military family therapeutic retreat couples class
Erin and Kimberly during class time at their therapeutic retreat with Project Sanctuary.

My husband was able to talk about his deployment experiences with people who understood exactly how he felt and had been in the same situations as he had and he knew he wasn’t going to be judged. We were even able to talk with a financial specialist and discuss our budget and financial plans for our future.

Project Sanctuary was everything we needed post-deployment. We were blown away by the kindness and generosity of everyone we met during the retreat and we can’t express our gratitude enough.

military family art therapy project therapeutic retreat
The Gooch Family shows off one of their family projects at Project Sanctuary’s therapeutic retreat in Colorado.

Joining Project Sanctuary’s Strike Force makes you part of an elite group of supporters – our most effective force to change how military families heal.

Your gift of $40 per month will provide an outdoor reconnection experience for 10 families at a therapeutic retreat this year. Give now >>