Battle Against Military Suicide, Divorce, Finds Some Rare Hope Up in the Colorado Mountains

Colorado’s Project Sanctuary Plucks Families From Stress, Gets Them Into the Mountains

Organizers report program 100 percent effective in suicide prevention in group of 164 families who’ve attended, waiting list has risen to over 800

by Kevin Simpson
The Denver Post, April 13, 2012

Project Sanctuary, a Granby-based organization that sends military families on healing retreats in the Rocky Mountains, joined four other groups across the nation honored for their creative approaches to helping veterans this week in Washington, D.C.

“My idea was to take them out of a stressful situation, take them to the mountains, get them unplugged, get them resources,” said executive director Heather Ehle, who served as a nurse in the first Gulf War.

Project Sanctuary in Granby, Colorado takes stressed military families for 5-day mountain retreats. Of the 164 families who have attended the program, none have experienced a suicide and 95 percent have remained married organizers say.


On retreats that last six days, Project Sanctuary serves about 10 families at a time, with a mix of active duty soldiers and veterans plus spouses and kids, and offers them recreational opportunities as well as help through classes on anything from finances to healthy marriages.

The organization also conducts follow-up to help provide continued services and support in an effort to confront problems like divorce, suicide and child and spousal abuse.

The announcement of the awards coincides with the first anniversary of Joining Forces, a national initiative to aid military families headed by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden. The honors recognize innovative approaches to support.

“It says what we’re hearing from families, that what we do works,” said Ehle of the award. “It’s innovative and timely. Sometimes when you think outside the box, you get astonishing results.”

Project Sanctuary has done 22 retreats with 164 families, with the next one scheduled for April 27. Those families have experienced zero suicides and more than 95 percent of couples have stayed married.

There are more than 800 families on the waiting list for retreats.

Read the rest of this story:
http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_20385172/colorados-project-sanctuary-wins-national-award-its-work

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