FAMILIES OF PROJECT SANCTUARY: Why We Went and What It Meant

Sutton Family #133
We signed up for Project Sanctuary because we wanted some constructive family time without the daily distractions. Our youngest daughter was a day shy of a month old and our oldest was 18 months old when Matt left. Matt felt that he missed out on a pretty crucial part of our children’s lives and we both wanted to spend time reconnecting with them.

At our retreat, we learned how important family was to us and not to avoid conflict but to deal with it effectively. We also learned some new personality traits, how ours differ and how we can approach each other based on our differences. Finally, we learned that stress is the number one hurdle in our life and we need do our best every day to manage it safely with the new tools we gained.

Morgan Family #119
After my service in the Navy, I came back changed. I no longer wanted to participate in life, I was just a passenger. I applied for Project Sanctuary right after I had my daughter Elizabeth. Right then, I knew I had to change. Someone else was relying on me to support them.

Well, obstacles got in my way and I was pregnant with my son William. At this point we requested financial assistance to get away and spend family time. The retreat was life changing. My family began talking to one another and we opened the line of communication. Project Sanctuary was just the beginning. Because of this retreat, we now take time as a family at least twice a month. I cannot tell you how much this family binding time meant to us.

Sullivan Family #122/129
We signed up for Project Sanctuary because it was a FREE retreat! Seriously, we needed a free retreat! Little did we know, Project Sanctuary is so much more than just a free retreat or how much this mission would impact the rest of our lives.

The past six years of our marriage had been tough, wrought with many difficulties including loss and death, a hard deployment, five moves, and difficult pregnancies.  We had been living in survival mode for years, not realizing how badly our family and relationships were suffering or how much we needed to reconnect.

We felt lucky when we were offered a chance to attend a couples retreat during our 10 year anniversary.  How amazing would it be to go on a retreat on our anniversary!  We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to reconnect and when my Mom offered to watch our two children, we couldn’t say no.

The retreat was beyond eye opening to say the least.  We didn’t know how much we were both hurting or what was causing our issues; PTSD, depression, hurt, loss, anger, triggers, miscommunication, and disconnect all ailed our marriage.  We learned all this from attending the marriage classes, opening up and being vulnerable with ourselves, our spouses, and also, suprisingly, with the other couples at the retreat.  It’s amazing how much we, as military families, forget that the people around us are suffering just as much as we are.  We isolated ourselves from the people who would understand us best even though we are all living through similar situations and dealing with the same difficulties; PTSD, depression, hurt, loss, anger, triggers, miscommunication, and disconnect…sound familiar?  Project Sanctuary opened our hearts to how much we all can relate to each other, even though we come from different walks of life.

We gained so much perspective and skills from our retreats.  It changed everything from how we connect, how we parent, how we work together during both the good times and bad, the importance of keeping our marriage a priority and to always keep communication open so we felt safe to share.  We also gained life-long friends who are there for us through thick and thin and we for them. We learned that Project Sanctuary is not “just” a free retreat, it changes lives for the better while bringing you close to those that matter most in your life, your family and your military friends.

Vincent Family #130
As a blended military family, we struggle to find ways to build positive memories and connect in ways that strengthen our bond. Project Sanctuary was all it said it would be, and more. At our retreat, my husband and I learned that even though we approach challenges differently, we can work together. Sitting knee-to-knee with him, in the relationship class, was really moving for us. The staff and volunteers treated us like family. Our kids had such a wonderful time, making new friends and challenging themselves in different activities.

My husband is now looking forward to being involved with Walton’s Warriors and continues to challenge himself physically and mentally. I am sharing our story to encourage other families to make the leap and learn more about Project Sanctuary.

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