Last Call/ All Hands On Deck for Arizona Combat Veteransby Michael Patrick Brewer on Jul. 24, 2009, under Alternative Care, Uncategorized, Veteran Legislative Update, Veterans Benefits, Veterans' Spouses, Partners & Families
Tomorrow night, Saturday the 25th at Hotel Congress 6-10pm is our benefit concert supporting the Returning Veteran Program at the Merritt Retreat Center. The band “Still Cruisin” accompanied by the “Shere Delites” are performing for us. Veterans are free. Donations accepted for Merritt Center 501-C-3. See “MerrittCenter.org”
What was once known as shell shock and now as Post Traumatic Stress, has come to the foreground in recent years as veterans of war transition to civilian life. We have learned much about this gap of time that can be critical to the quality of life of the veteran. The Merritt Center four week basic training for recovery and healing was designed with great care and compassion by one woman named Betty Merritt.
The Merritt Center and Lodge is a non-profit retreat center in Star Valley, Payson, Az. It was founded in 1987 by Betty for individual or group renewal and empowerment skills. In talking to veteran friends Betty learned that “combat is nasty stuff.’ Her dream was to ease the pain and anguish of these men and women and prevent the self destructive behavior that families witnessed in the Vietnam Veteran who was seldom welcomed in polite company. The program is spread over several months and attempts to provide new structures of self and a release from the traumatic triggers and residual symptoms of combat stress. The staff are all volunteers and provide their services gratis to the vets. From professional therapists to the cooks, everyone is a volunteer. The family like setting and the freedom of the forest creates a perfect, safe setting to simply let go. The validation and trust that comes with a group of vets who all have one thing in common is the source of a level of healing that cannot be found in a traditional setting. Having been involved in the program as a graduate, and now as a Mentor for 3 years, I can attest to the efficacy of this very unique and sacred place.
With a spiritual focus the participants are able to look at what brings them solace as they drop some of the triggers that loop them into the “fight or flight” syndrome, that frequently lead to vocational and marital problems.
While the program was designed for the OEF/OIF and Afghan veteran, it was discovered that there was still some healing to be done in the general veteran population. Which is to say that the participants are coming from all wars. One evening we had 5 wars around the supper table! Where in American history has that ever occurred? It is quite clear that the effects of war are timeless and have no respect for rank or position in life. To have that experience with a band of brothers is simply transforming.
The Returning Veterans Program costs the Merritt Center approximately $150 for each of the 4 weekends. With the help of the volunteers and private donations the retreat remains free to any combat veteran of any war. We hope to keep it that way forever.
There is also a program for Women that will include the wives of the military. The woman’s program just completed their second retreat.
The dates for the Men’ Retreat beginning in 2010 are; January 15-17. March 5-7. May 14-16. July 9-11.
The dates for the Women’s Retreat are: Feb. 5-7. April 16-18. June 4-6. July 30th-Aug 1st.
Call for application at 928-474-4268. or email “email@example.com.”