When a service member transitions home, to civilian life and to family, the adjustments can be overwhelming for everyone. Project Sanctuary offers those families a place to heal and to reconnect, in a safe and healthy environment.
Heather Ehle founded Project Sanctuary in 2007, recognizing the need to help those military families overcome their challenges. Through retreats that include therapeutic recreation, counseling, and classes, the service member has the opportunity to reconnect not only with family but quite often with himself or herself as well.
Geneva Templeton Moore, Chief Operating Officer at Project Sanctuary, points out that military families have a higher rate of divorce, higher rates of domestic abuse, and extremely higher rates of suicides. In fact, she says, the “numbers are shockingly high.” Project Sanctuary addresses the need to bring those numbers down and to understand how to make things better in the service member’s home, by serving the whole family.
Those families come from 49 states and from duty stations across the world. Project Sanctuary hosts retreats in eight states, serving each region of the country. The organization serves both active duty and prior service military families through their two-year program called the ART of Project Sanctuary.
ART is an acronym for Assessing, Reconnecting, and Thriving.
First, they assess the family’s specific needs to determine whether they are in immediate crisis and need assistance from other partners across the country or whether they can benefit from Project Sanctuary’s program.
Second, they reconnect the service member to himself or herself and to the family and, ultimately, to the community. The organization hosts six-day retreats that include counseling, classes, and therapeutic recreation time, using simple activities like art, bowling, horseback riding, and rafting to help families discover ways to communicate and ways to handle potentially stressful situations. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has become their most popular class.
Third, Project Sanctuary helps families continue to thrive by keeping in touch throughout the two-year follow-up period. Moore says that the organization has a “90% success rate of families staying together” after they complete the ART of Project Sanctuary program.
Project Sanctuary has been partnered with Veteran’s Passport to Hope since the beginning. VP2H founder, Shane Schmutz, was an early Project Sanctuary board member. Geneva Templeton Moore says that the “support of VP2H has been tremendous.” Retreats are expensive but as funding allows, Project Sanctuary continues to increase the number of retreats each year, to meet the growing needs, and VP2H has been a key factor in their ability to do just that. The grants they have received from VP2H have funded entire retreats for military families who need hope and healing.
Check out the Today Show’s recent story on Project Sanctuary!