Letter to Veterans

My Fellow Veterans,

I wanted to take some time to talk about our program and what you can expect when you get to your retreat. I am a firm believer that knowledge is power and when we know what to expect before we experience something we can reduce our anxiety.

First of all, these retreats are free to the veteran. We accept all ages from 18-118 years old. You did not have to be in a war or conflict to have post-traumatic stress from the military, and we accept most discharges. All we ask of you is that you take care of your travel expenses (we have ideas to help financially) and to have an open mind through the week. It may be things you have already learned or tried before, but we encourage you to take this opportunity to sharpen the tools you already have and maybe put them together in a different order for success.

During your time with us you will have wonderful experiences and learn some new tools to take with you through life. This program is designed for a large impact in a short period of time. This is not group therapy and there will be no individual therapy; however; this is a holistic therapeutically based program. Holistic therapy provides a well-rounded experience of mind and body, working with the whole person. Every cell of your body remembers not just your mind, so if we treat the whole person you can be more successful. We will not talk about any trauma specifically. Everyone in your group of ten has the same issues and struggles with the same symptoms of trauma including guilt, shame, anger, anxiety, fear and depression. You will learn how to trust again and learn to adopt a healthy relaxed lifestyle.

During your stay with us you will be doing some mild physical activity. This is nothing strenuous and you will not be required to lift anything heavy. Most retreats are designed to incorporate canoeing, archery, animal therapy, a walking labyrinth (less than a half a mile with a resting space in the middle), a low ropes course to help learn to trust yourself again and snowshoeing in the winter months. Colorado weather can change drastically from day to day or even from morning to afternoon so we will make adjustments if needed to keep everyone safe. There may be walking up a slight grade to get to an activity. We will be above 8000 feet so we will take it slow with those from sea level. Look for your welcome packet for a list of items to bring and when to start drinking more water for the altitude. These retreats are intended to work through the past, present, and into the future using relaxation, empowerment and trust.

Your group will consist of ten people including yourself. They will be your same gender and average age. On our application you will be asked specific questions about gender, age, what fits best PTSD or MST, if you would like extra help during your week such as faith based (we will offer Bible study in the evenings), addictions (we will offer an AA or Smart recovery groups in the evenings) etc. These specialized retreats will be offered once a year if there is enough interest. We also need to be aware if you have dietary restrictions like diabetes or celiac, prosthetics or mobility issues or if you are bringing a certified service animal. During most groups we will have local agencies that offer emotional support animal therapy that will be present.

Our application will be utilized so that we can form groups that would appear to be the greatest success for every participant. We want to make sure you have what you need the week you will be with us.

You will have your own room with a queen bed and private bathroom. We will begin our program on Monday afternoon with a get to know each other session before a quick biology lesson about the brain and trauma. Be thinking about what you might want people to know about you such as, you collect stamps, play the flute, watch horror movies, read romance novels, or rebuild hot rods. Something unique about your interests. We will be finished by noon on Friday. You will have time in the evenings for reflection, journaling, contacting your family and sitting around the campfire or fireplace to just chit chat and laugh.

We require that your applications are to us at least two months in advance of the first month on your list. You will immediately be put on our waiting list. Once we put your group together we will notify you by email and phone when your retreat is scheduled. We will give you at least a month’s notice to make arrangements with work, school, or travel plans.

Our team is excited about your stay with us. Please do not hesitate to contact us at dr.kfriel@dfretreats.org about your stay with us, travel plans, or even how to pay to get here.

Have a great day and I can’t wait to meet you.

Dr. K