Veterans Ride in Style at Arizona’s Boulder Crest Retreat
Driving up a dirt path through uncommonly green surroundings for Southern Arizona, you’re met with a wave of peace as you enter the 130-acre Apache Springs Ranch. As of May 1, the ranch is home to the Boulder Crest Retreat Arizona, a military and veteran wellness paradise committed to improving the physical, emotional, spiritual and economic wellbeing of our nation's active-duty military, combat veterans, first responders and their family members.
The land originally belonged to Thomas Gardner, an entrepreneur known for battling Apache Indians like Geronimo and Cochise. What is now a still and peaceful retreat was once a battleground for warriors — a perfect representation of the struggle and strength most guests of Boulder Crest will face during their journey.
“[It’s a] combination of a beautiful place, a safe space and a piece of land that has a heck of a warrior tradition on it,” said Ken Faulk, founder and chairman of Boulder Crest Retreat. “It’s a great place for us to do our programs.”
Training is a process
Boulder Crest primarily serves military veterans who are struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, focusing on healing and reconnecting individuals after their time in combat. Guests follow one of two signature programs: family R&R, where families stay free of charge for two to seven nights of rest and reconnection, or a PATHH (Progressive Alternative Training for Healing Heroes) program for individuals, families, couples or caregivers, based on the science of posttraumatic growth.
“We know that these veterans are not broken, and there’s nothing wrong with them,” said Suzi Landolphi, a PATHH Guide at Boulder Crest, Virginia. “We actually say it’s what happened, not what’s wrong.”
In the Warrior PATHH program, after an intensive seven-day initiation at the retreat, guests continue their journey for 18 months with people in their cohort who provide support and help them stay on task. Using email, phone calls or in-person meetings, the goal is to foster those important relationships to continue the healing and strengthening process.
“We’re asking you to change the way you behave, we’re asking you to change the brain, change your thoughts, your actions and your beliefs — that’s not an event, that’s a process,” noted Robert Vera, development officer for Boulder Crest.
The original Boulder Crest Retreat, in Virginia, opened in 2013 and has since hosted some 4,000 people. United Rentals, which has a long-standing commitment to veteran support, was proud to partner with the nonprofit organization. When the need for utility carts at the new Arizona facility arose, we teamed up with Club Car to get the crew what they needed.
“What happens oftentimes is the men and women who come here have a lot of issues physically. We may have six people with only five limbs between them all,” Landolphi explained.
“Really it’s mobility,” added Sean Bode, executive director for Boulder Crest Retreat, Arizona. “That mobility comes with a peace of mind that we’re able to do that much more because it’s a time saver.”
While Boulder Crest Retreat in Sonoita has already started partnering with other organizations like SongwritingWith:Soldiers for smaller, focused groups of veterans, the official grand opening isn’t until November of this year. Until then, the Arizona team is busy going through training themselves and getting the retreat ready for veterans and their families.
Bode expressed his gratitude to United Rentals. “Thank you is too simple of a response — I’ll thank you on behalf of the combat veterans and their families, and knowing that this gift, this [is a] nod and acknowledgement toward the service members that we care about you, we care what you do.”
For more information the Boulder Crest Retreat, visit http://www.bouldercrestretreat.org/.