“Hi Heather, we just finished up with our retreat yesterday and I just wanted to email you and thank you and everyone involved for this wonderful experience. People like yourself and all the amazing staff, volunteers, donors, sponsors are very rare to come by. My husband, left a letter with Sharon expressing his gratitude. And my family and I sat down and wrote a thank you notes to every one of the donors and the sponsors. It was the least we could do for what they helped Project Sanctuary do for our family. My kids had such an awesome time participating in all the activities.They made friends with the other kids and volunteers at childcare. They were all so amazing.

But, the biggest thing I personally give thanks for is the PTS class. This class is the reason my husband is seeking help today as I write this email. I knew something was going on with him, but [he] is the type to play things down and act like everything is ok. But, after sitting in the PTS Class, he came to the realization that he needed to talk to someone. He realized he does need help and he is acting on it. So, I just wanted to say thank you so very much from the bottom of my heart.  We are looking forward to maybe going to one of your couple’s retreat, maybe we will see you again.”

~ Military Spouse. Retreat #93

“Now that 4 months has passed since we attended the retreat, I wanted to share with you what an impact you, your staff, and the retreat had on our family.  When ‘John,’ ‘Baby Mary’ and I came out in October, we were in a much better place than we were a few months prior when our marriage almost ended, right before ‘Mary’ was born.  However, we still had a lot of work to do though, and the stress of John’s job was impacting us negatively more than ever.  I know that God put us on that specific retreat, at that exact time for a reason.

When we arrived in Denver, our stress levels were at an all-time high, but as the week progressed, things got easier.  We were able to talk to each other in a nicer, more gentle tone, we looked at each other as husband and wife again and we genuinely enjoyed spending time together.  The marriage and financial workshops kicked us in the right direction and we have not stopped using the tools that we learned in them.

Four months later, we have the best marriage that we have ever had.  Our relationship has changed SO incredibly much since the retreat, and as a result, Mary’s life has too.  Not only did you help to save our marriage, but you helped to save our family and our sanity.”

~ Military Spouse

“I distinctly remember after every deployment there was a scheduled day for each company of Soldiers, and we would all line up in single file outside the clinic and file in one by one and talk to a counselor or psy doc, and it was always the exact same question and right to the point: “So, how do you feel, and is there anything wrong?” We didn’t even know the names of those that asked, and as far as my own personal stance, there was no way I was going to tell anyone that I didn’t know if I was having any issues. There were too many issues of being singled out or risks of being medically discharged if one was to speak up. I never said a word because I didn’t want to jeopardize my ability to provide for my family.

During the process of leaving the Army, it was ‘forced’ healing as I like to call it. There were too many people getting out at the same time as me, so everything was curtailed around a large group. Nothing was personalized. I don’t blame the Army for being the big machine that it is, but the fact is that they were not prepared to effectively transition soldiers to civilians. They did the best they could, I guess, but it’s not enough…. The day I was no longer a Soldier, I wasn’t sure who I was anymore. It’s all I knew for the past ten years. As soon as I left the unit area on my last day…that was it. No follow ups on how I was doing or what was going on. As far as what works…Project Sanctuary works. I knew when I went to our retreat and even when I volunteered. I saw the change then, and I see it now. I truly hope you realize how much of an impact that you make with everyone, Heather. It’s hard to put into words other than it’s amazing, and I can’t thank you enough.”

~ Male Army Veteran

“I’m enjoying it out here. Enjoying being around other vets. Enjoying the veterans who are volunteering their time and experiences and helping us get through things. It’s awesome to see in person we are not alone. You hear it and know it. But obviously living with it and experiencing it are two different things. Events like these, movements like these are priceless. It can and I’m sure has prevented good soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and coast guardsmen from taking their lives and becoming a statistic.

The more services like this and movements can stop generations now, in the past, and the future from being labeled in a negative way. And it empowers all who come and learn, and do their best to use the tools. I hope I can get better at using all the ones I have been given through the years. It would be awesome to get through all this and be able to help fellow vets, and their families and their environments live in good relationship with their loved ones. I can imagine it is rewarding. And I want these folks to know it goes both ways. Learning to be a good husband and father is worth giving more than I gave in the Marines. And at times it seemed I gave everything I had and was able to push more. But the truth is I made it out. And now I am facing the toughest fight of my life.

Making sense of the world, especially when you realize the world did not change, I must have. Learned that from a soldier that is out here with us. He said it and I thought, damn, that’s the truth, it’s a tough truth to swallow. I don’t like to think I changed or am much different. But it makes a lot of sense and connects a lot of dots. I really want to make the commitment with my wife to stick this out, and fight to love each other the way Christ loves us, without condition, and extending grace. How can I accept grace. And not give it. That has to change. Now. Not later. No reason to wait. I had a fortune cookie recently that said “do not put off today what you are OK dying with tomorrow left undone”  could not sleep. So I wrote thoughts from a long day.”

~ Veteran. Retreat #99

“Thank you for letting each and every one of us families have our “own” retreat! The positive impact all of those with Project Sanctuary is innumerable. We felt unconditional love and acceptance for the first time— EVER. Words cannot relate our gratitude. Thank you for honestly caring, and wanting our families to have great lives. You gave us the beginning of an amazing toolbox that we are excited to build upon!”

~ Veteran

“Dear Project Sanctuary,

My family has been on a journey since Sgt. White’s alive date of May, 20, 2012. A journey of medical and psychological struggles but one of strength and perseverance.  Although many hurdles and mountains have been conquered since the IED explosion; it was at Project Sanctuary in which we found hope.  Hope for our future and hope knowing we were not alone in our seemingly silent battle. The staff at Project Sanctuary understood our struggles of TBI and PTSD but even more so how to move past diagnosis and seek a better quality of life. Most notably, Mike, Ronie, and Susan took us aside for many private conversations where tears were shed.  Tears of relief and gratitude that it is no longer our burden to carry these frustrations but that we are now part of a family of survivors.  We shared more than tears and stories with these amazing people, we shared laughter.  As a family, we have not laughed and smiled as much as we did in that short week up in those beautiful mountains.  This retreat gave us our focus back.  Focus to conquer the next set of struggles to arise and focus to remember the little things that make us smile. We were able to breathe and enjoy each other and the beautiful countryside.  I am forever grateful to those who made this retreat possible for us and for the amount of love that was passed around during our time there. Truly amazing work and healing comes from these retreats and as a military spouse and also a parent, I want to say thank you giving us hope and the strength to keep fighting the fight.”

~ Military Spouse

“Project Sanctuary is not just a foundation. They are a ministry! They are the glue that brings famil[ies] back together! My family never knew what family love felt like until we encountered this retreat and the people who help make it possible. I thank God over and over again for Heather giving me the opportunity to see myself in the light and NOT in the dark.”

~ Female veteran, single mother of five

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