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National Veterans Wellness & Healing Center - Flint Hills Retreats

Uniqueness of the National Veterans Wellness & Healing Center - Flint Hills Retreats

Modeled after successful holistic programs within the Department of Defense and the State of New Mexico, the Flint Hills Veterans Wellness Retreats are specifically designed to assist warriors and their families affected by combat by using a community-based holistic, integrative approach that supports, treats, educates, and motivates participants over a 5-day period. With more than 700 acres in the scenic Kansas Flint Hills, the natural surroundings at Rock Springs 4-H Center, near Junction City, Kansas, stimulate reflective thinking and provide an atmosphere ideal for the renewal of relationships.

In addition to the holistic nature of this retreat, we have identified five critical principles of our program that both enhance the effectiveness of the retreat, and serve to make it distinct from other programs within the State of Kansas and most of the United States. Additionally, these five principles provide powerful research opportunities in the treatment of PTSD as each of these components is establishing positive trends. The components include:

Intergenerational Combat Veteran Interaction

We deliberately combine the Combat Veteran generations at each retreat to facilitate discussion between the old and young. We are noticing that both the older and younger Veterans greatly benefit from each other when they interact. The older Veteran who learned to manage and control the symptoms of post-traumatic stress, is able to pass those lessons on to the younger Veterans. This also shows the younger veterans that they are not alone in their struggles, and serves to eliminate the feeling of isolation that can accompany PTSD. Conversely, the older Veterans find a new mission and purpose in life by assisting the young generation and are once again connected to, and contributing to, the current fight. Specific break-out sessions are incorporated into the retreat to allow the Veterans to interact in both formal and informal settings.

Focus on the Veteran and Spouse as a Single Unit

We believe that the Veteran and Spouse must be treated as a single unit in order to achieve long-term success. It is increasingly recognized that the stresses placed upon military spouses, both during a deployment and in dealing with the effects of PTSD, can itself be traumatic. Spouses are strongly encouraged to participate in each event, and the facilitator of group discussions will ensure that the voice of the spouse is not overshadowed by the Veteran.

Heavy Community and State Involvement

It is critically important to recognize that this is a Kansas-based retreat generated by Kansas Communities to help Kansas Veterans. The retreat incorporates cultural components of the State of Kansas and the Mid-West, and highlights the beauty of the Kansas Flint Hills Region. To be successful, communities and the State of Kansas must take ownership and pride in this program. The symbolism of the State of Kansas doing this is part of the "Welcome Home," and demonstrates the deep concern and appreciation that the State of Kansas has for its Veterans.

The "Soldiers Saving Soldiers" Concept

We believe that the most important person in any Veteran's road to recovery is the support and interaction with those who have the shared experience of combat. Veterans have the ability to relate with each other, share techniques, and provide a much-needed sense of camaraderie when the sense of isolation begins to prevail. Veteran to Veteran discussion, mediated by a clinician, is a certain victory in the treatment of PTSD.

Preparation & Follow-Up Care

The National Veterans Wellness & Healing Center - Flint Hills Retreats services are provided by a multidisciplinary team of professionals called "Purple Care Teams," who provide support to participants before, during, and after the retreat to connect Military families with state-wide resources needed to support their success. A Purple Care Team (PCT) case manager is assigned to each Veteran Couple to conduct initial screening and assessment, monitor needs during the retreat, and provide after-care services within the home community for up to 2 years post-retreat.

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