HELPING MILITARY FAMILIES THRIVE
Project Sanctuary supports military families where they are right NOW. After years of working with military families, we have become a recognized leader in bringing health and wellness to our military families. By addressing mental health first, we take our families from battle ready to family ready.
HOW IT WORKS
All military/veteran families who contact us, or who are referred to us, are first assessed to determine if they need support and services now (i.e., immediate help) or if they may be scheduled for a retreat. Both options are geared toward reconnecting the families to each other and to their communities. All services provided are intended to help the families thrive today and into the future. All of our services are provided free of charge to participating military families.
The needs of the military family go far beyond the “popular” belief of needing discounts, recognition or a free concert. In many cases the military family is in crisis—dealing with painful mental health issues, critical financial instability or volatile marriages and home life.
Reconnecting through our 2-year program begins with our therapeutic retreats for the military family–focusing on healing, recreation and education.
A successful transition continues through ongoing support and services for families who have completed our retreats or who were referred to us for support outside of the retreats.
WHY IT WORKS
More than 1100 families have reconnected through Project Sanctuary since 2007.
1. Retreats are structured to be six days, giving the family adequate time to begin to decompress, de-stress and really commence the healing cycle.
2. Retreats include the entire family (children and spouse)/support system. This enables the family to heal together with everyone understanding their roles and importance to the overall process.
3. No chain-of-command reporting eases professional concerns and allows for open and honest discussion.
4. Retreats are held in a secluded environment, without the interruption of cell phones, TVs or internet. We create a sanctuary, a place of healing.
5. Encouragement is offered from individuals who can empathize with what the family is going through.
6. Most volunteers are returning family members who are able to give peer-to-peer understanding and support while growing the network of families.
7. Participants are a mix of active duty, veterans, and wounded warriors and are from all five branches of the military, giving the families opportunities to learn of other services and coping strategies utilized from a wide base of sources.
8. Only six to twelve families attend each retreat to ensure that each family’s specific needs are met and to provide each family dedicated time for their situation and needs.
Recreation therapy in a straight-forward sentence is a therapy used to assist persons to develop skills, knowledge and behaviors for daily living and community involvement. It is simply the act of using recreation to heal and grow.
At Project Sanctuary, we use seemingly simple activities like art, bowling, and recreation centers to show that recreation is inexpensive and very accessible. You don’t need horseback riding and snowmobiling to have a recreational experience, or for it to be therapeutic and have lasting effects. But we do use high adventure activities such as rafting to help families discover ways to communicate, and we use horseback riding to show individuals how to handle a possibly stressful situation and manage their emotions because horses don’t always do want you want them to do.
Teaching the tools that military families need to thrive is an integral part of our therapeutic retreats. Project Sanctuary, in partnership with national, industry leaders, has tailored classes specific to our military family’s needs.
- Reconnection workshops are four hours of instruction and hands-on learning, focusing on relationships and communication. The American Red Cross has been an integral part of fine-tuning the ever changing sessions to meet the needs of our families.
- “Money Matters, Family Matters” was created with First Command Education Foundation and is two hours of financial instruction based on the current needs of the class. Topics can range from basic budgeting to investing for the future.
In response to our family’s requests, we developed, with input from various leaders in mental health and PTSD, our own “Thrive Class, a Field Guide for Families Living with PTSD.” During this two-hour session, we focus on how to overcome hurdles and obstacles as a family. Mindfulness and tactile breathing close out this often very intense class.
The mental health needs of the military family is a core focus in both the therapeutic retreats and in our continuum of care. “Counseling” may take place on horseback or in a more formal one-on-one session. Project Sanctuary addresses the health of ALL family members, making us one of the few organizations in the country addressing the stresses of military life on teens and children.
Our program is run by a professionally led team that includes a registered nurse, licensed professional counselors, medical social workers, certified therapeutic recreation specialists and trained peer mentors. Our two-year program includes the following self-directed (not mandatory) elements:
• Counseling for any family member
• Emergency financial assistance
• Ongoing financial education
• Assistance with housing solutions
• Assistance with employment solutions
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Project Sanctuary is a trademark of A Sanctuary for Military Families Inc.
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