As the only U.S. American in my family, I’ve always felt a deep commitment to helping returning soldiers, and working with Project Sanctuary allows me to continue this commitment.
As we all know Heather’s arm reach far beyond any one person and I truly feel she is a role model to show each of us how much farther we can reach to make a difference. I stayed with Project Sanctuary after discovering that one person can make a difference with the love and dedication and the strength of community and belonging you find here. It is my privilege to be part of an organization that focuses its energy and resources on families first and recognizes that everyone has worth.
Simply put, the suicide rate of these warriors is far too high! We are here to change that. I am here, as a civilian who has lived the life of a warrior and who has the passion, understanding, empathy, and clinical training needed to connect deeply with the vets in the program to help them find that inner light they have sometimes lost touch with.
Though I learned through my job about many of the transition issues our military families face after deployments, it was more academic than personal since my dad was already out of the military by the time I was born. A 2012 conversation with my cousin whose husband served for 19 years and who had just moved her family halfway across the country because Uncle Sam handed her husband a “pink slip” on his way home from his last deployment suddenly made it personal.
Seeing this strong woman whom I had known my whole life and had rarely seen shaken on the verge of tears as she talked about how difficult the adjustment had been and continued to be and listening to her talk about how her community – not just her husband’s – was gone really shook me and made it very real to me.
A week later – literally, one week – I was presented with the opportunity to work with Project Sanctuary. Some things just seem meant to be. And with every military family we help, I feel as if we are helping my family, too.
I don’t want anyone else to suffer or struggle with PTSD. I want other veterans, and their families, to know what PTSD is and how to manage it. I joined Project Sanctuary because I believe in their mission, and have witness their healing affect on my family and myself. I volunteered to be a Walton’s Warrior to mentor my fellow veterans and their families. I want my fellow veterans to know and understand they are not alone, there is hope and healing.
My dad first heard about Project Sanctuary, passed the information along to me and I was immediately inspired with their mission of supporting the entire military family. I volunteered at my first retreat almost two years ago and fell even more in love with this organization, the staff, the volunteers and the families. It was truly a humbling and amazing experience, one of my favorite volunteer experiences. Since my first retreat, I have joined the Operation Project Sanctuary Gala squad on the marketing committee and I volunteered at my second retreat in 2016. I have been blessed to be able to work with such an amazing organization and I hope I can continue to volunteer at retreats in the future.
Our home is the center of relationships, with family and friends bringing laughter and joy. Project Sanctuary is one extension of our desire to be with people and the Healthy Marriage piece is an expression of what we truly believe is a healthy marriage for us. Coming together to encourage couples/families towards a flourishing lifestyle is part of our calling and why we are excited to be part of the vision of Project Sanctuary!
Most importantly, I answer the call when he comes home and isn’t the same – and she’s terrified to think what demons may have followed him home. My work for Project Sanctuary is inspired by healing the heartache, calming the fear, building the memories claimed by years spend apart, and helping to put the pieces back together – even when those pieces seem to have changed.
We ask much of military families to endure in the important work of defending freedom. As a Project Sanctuary volunteer, I’ve been able to bear witness to the good work that goes on at these restorative retreats. It is truly a blessing to be able to give our nation’s heroes and their families access to the healing, hope and empowerment they so deserve. Thank you, Project Sanctuary, and all who support!
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