Finding peace after service

Partnering with Boulder Crest Foundation to help combat veterans and their families reconnect and recharge

For Sara Fleming, volunteering for the Boulder Crest Foundation is therapeutic.

Fleming, a U.S. Army veteran and a member of the Raytheon Employee Veterans Network, spends time at the nonprofit organization, which helps current and former service members deal with combat stress, anxiety and depression.

“After you’ve been in a war zone, you need to go somewhere to catch your breath,” said Fleming, who served as a non-commissioned officer in charge of a tactical human intelligence team in Iraq.

Sara Fleming while in U.S. Army Reserves

Sara Fleming served eight years in the Army Reserves and deployed to Iraq and Kosovo. (Photo: Sara Fleming)

Veterans like Fleming are finding inner peace through Boulder Crest, which provides training in post-traumatic growth. The idea is to encourage trauma survivors to gain control of their responses to life events, rather than react to them.

“Warriors often come to us feeling disconnected, anxious and secluded,” said Joe Wood, executive director of Boulder Crest’s Arizona Posttraumatic Growth Academy in Sonoita, Arizona. “We train them to live a productive life at home, as they did in the military.”

Raytheon Missiles & Defense and the Boulder Crest Foundation partner to help veterans and their families reclaim their lives. In 2020, the company donated more than $75,000 to support expansion of the initiative’s online program, which has grown during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Financial support, volunteerism and outreach for organizations like ours, is now more important than ever,” Wood said. “Raytheon checks every single box in helping Boulder Crest.”

Volunteers at Boulder Crest

Raytheon Missiles & Defense volunteers help maintain the Boulder Crest campus.

Fleming works with the RAVETS organization to help maintain the campus. Whether they are repairing fences, cleaning up the archery range, splitting wood or helping organize office space, employees are eager to get involved.

“I feel so much better just after being on the grounds,” Fleming said. “It’s a restorative place.”

A retreat for restoration

Organizers call it “The Retreat,” and with good reason. The 130-acre property is home to the Family Rest and Reconnection program, and it’s open to combat veterans and their families for hiking, fishing, archery and team-building activities. Participants stay in fully furnished ranch-style homes for two to seven nights, all at no cost.

Boulder Crest also offers an 18-month program called the Warrior PATHH, short for Progressive and Alternative Training for Healing Heroes. It starts with a seven-day on-site initiation at the Sonoita or Bluemont, Virginia, locations, where groups of six to eight people meet and take part in intensive, immersive training.

“Through coordinated group and individual experiences, veterans find ways to refocus, recharge and rediscover their purpose,” Wood said.

Veterans learn the benefits of meditation, as well as the benefits of equine-assisted connection activities and tension relief practices like archery. After the week is over, participants continue to connect and receive support through virtual learning.

The latest efforts to grow the virtual curriculum are allowing Boulder Crest to expand its reach nationally.

“Boulder Crest isn’t just changing lives,” Fleming said. “It’s saving lives.”

The organization accepts new applicants for Warrior PATHH year-round. To learn more, visit Boulder Crest Foundation.