I remember when the yellow "Support Our Troops" stickers and magnets were so popuplar that it seemed like they were on every other vehicle on the road. It was great to see people rally behind the troops. Now, after more than 10 years of war, we still need to support our troops - at home, as well as abroad.
What a lot of people don't realize is that the impact of deployments lasts a long time. Having to carry on with life while separated from your loved one is difficult enough. Unfortunately, many military families are destroyed during the "reintegration" of the military member back into the family.
I found the follwoing transcript from CBS about Project Sanctuary. It is "a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to provide therapeutic, curative, supportive and recreational activities to veterans, active military personnel, their spouses and children in a leisure environment."
Barry Petersen, CBS News, Granby, Colorado.
CBS Evening News, 6:30 PM
July 5, 2012
ANTHONY MASON: Whenever an American service member is deployed, an entire family sacrifices. Tonight, Barry Petersen takes us to a place where husbands, wives, and children once separated by war can learn to be a family again.
BARRY PETERSEN: It looks like a carefree hike through the Colorado wilderness, but it is really about military families struggling with years of deployments. And they are here because of this woman, Heather Ehle.
HEATHER EHLE: You remove the distractions from the cell phone, the TV.
PETERSEN: By being out here.
EHLE: By being out here. And it helps bring walls down.
PETERSEN: Breaking walls down is exactly why Ehle started Project Sanctuary, a weeklong retreat for troops and their families. Ehle got her first taste of how a family pays a price for military service when she was a volunteer nurse during the first war in Iraq.
EHLE: The stress of deployments, 10 and a half years of war have really taken a toll. A lot of these children have grown up with one parent, having birthdays by Skype. It's very difficult for them to reunite and to connect.
PETERSEN: Staci and Ty Taylor, with daughters Kameron and Kenidi, came here from Oklahoma, where he is still being deployed as part of National Guard air crew.
For Staci, there is a comfort just from being with other military families facing the same challenges.
STACI TAYLOR: We can say anything and somebody in the room is going know exactly what we've gone through.
PETERSEN: Things for the Taylors were made tougher since their five-year-old daughter was diagnosed with a rare brain disorder.
TY TAYLOR: Our youngest, Kameron, has had two brain surgeries in the last year. So she is – had a lot of stress in her life for a young girl. This has given her a chance to play and just be a kid for a change.
PETERSEN: Besides all of the outdoor activity, there is plenty of practical learning.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When he was deployed, everything that was extra that he made I did just put on credit cards –
PETERSEN: Like classes on family finances and marriage.
One measure of success, a waiting list of more than 1,000 families. Ehle personally raises $30,000 to pay for the week through fundraisers and private donations, which means the families can come here for free.
PETERSEN: What are you looking for that says to you that this is working?
EHLE: I watch, number one, their facial expressions. You start seeing some smiles. You start seeing some hand-holding. You watch the spouses offer support to one another. Then you watch the kids and then go with each other. It becomes a one big community, one big family.
PETERSEN: What war has taken from these families, time in the Colorado Rockies can begin giving back.