How does a TRX Suspension Trainer help a veteran cope with trauma? The answer might surprise you.
Boulder Crest, a non-profit warrior care facility, helps veterans and their families cope with both physical and emotional trauma, and uses TRX Suspension Trainers as part of their programming. In fact, every veteran leaves the program with their own TRX Suspension Trainer so they can continue their rehabilitation at home.
“I use them every single day as part of my daily routine—seven days a week. Even my son is using them, now,” said Mario Kovach, a former Boulder Crest participant.
As a veteran-founded company with close ties to the military, TRX has proudly supported Boulder Crest since 2016. This year alone, TRX has donated 200 Suspension Trainers so the organization can continue its important rehabilitative work with our military heroes. In honor of Veterans Day, we’re sharing more about Boulder Crest’s work, and our years-long partnership with this incredible organization.
The Boulder Crest Vision
Ken and Julia Falke started Boulder Crest after experiencing the effects of combat trauma firsthand and meeting other combat veterans. (Ken, a 21-year combat Service-Disabled Veteran, served as a U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Technician and Master Chief Petty Officer.) Around 2011, the couple was visiting regularly with EOD veterans and their families in a Washington DC-area hospital, and realized these warriors needed healing time outside the hospital walls.
Realizing there was a need for a permanent facility, the couple donated 37 acres of their land and $1 million—and raised another $9 million—to build Boulder Crest, the nation’s first privately-funded retreat center dedicated to military and veteran personnel. Today, the non-profit offers veteran-led programming at retreat centers in Virginia and Arizona, and serves about 750 participants each year, free of charge.
TRX Founder Randy Hetrick knew Falke from their Navy days. (As an EOD, Falke would clear bombs from areas so Hetrick’s SEAL team could complete their mission.) When the two reconnected over the Boulder Crest mission, Hetrick became involved with the Boulder Crest’s Wellness Committee, and the TRX Suspension Trainer became part of the fitness program. Since then, TRX has donated more than 1,000 Suspension Trainers to participants, and made significant donations each year to the organization.
"Fitness is critical to living a great life and living a great life is exactly what we teach in our Warrior PATHH program,” Falke said. “Our partnership with TRX is amazing. Their generosity is second to none. Every Warrior PATHH participant leaves with a set of straps and this provides them with their own home gym and no excuses to maintain a level of fitness that is required to help live a great life."
For Kelly Zander, having a set of straps has created continuity between Boulder Crest and life at home. “I have used My TRX just about every day,” said Zander. “It’s been great improving my health and well-being and giving me a better attitude and more confidence to face the day.”
Healing Invisible Wounds
Trauma and PTSD are common among veterans returning from war zones, but often go undiagnosed because they’re invisible wounds.
“The veteran community has a suicide rate of 20 a day. That's a crazy statistic,” Falke said. “Most of the people we get here have either attempted suicide or have severe suicide ideation. Our goal is to try to give them some hope and get them on a path for living a better version of their life.”
Falke explained that 50% of people who need mental health care never see a therapist. Of the 50% that go through therapy, about 18% of them will stick with therapy, meaning that if a patient doesn’t connect with the therapist during the first appointment, they’re unlikely to return. Out of the 18% that go to therapy, about 3% of them will become symptom free.
“From a military perspective, one of the reasons the statistics are a little bit higher is because a lot of the therapists don't understand the military culture,” Falke said.
Boulder Crest considered those obstacles when building their peer-based posttraumatic growth plan. Staffers are combat veterans, which creates an instant level of relatability with the participants, and programming is described as “training” rather than “therapy” because the organization is preparing veterans to lead full lives.
To that end, Boulder Crest emphasizes a “Warrior PATHH,” which focuses on four areas of wellness: mind, body, spirit, and financial. TRX is a major part of that physical programming. For veterans who are nervous about returning to weights, the Suspension Trainer offers a gradual, customizable approach to strength training..
“The thought of getting back to weight training—my normal routine and regulation —was too big of a jump, and was a large piece to my poor mental state,” Steve Brush, a Boulder Crest participant, explained. “TRX provided the bridge to build back muscle mass, core strength, and confidence that resulted in returning to my normal weight training program.” Even after Brush finished his time at Boulder Crest, he continued using the Suspension Trainer at home for core workouts and on the road for full-body training.
Holidays like Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Veterans Day give us a moment to reflect on the extraordinary sacrifices of our military personnel and their families, but these brave people deserve our appreciation and support year-round. Boulder Crest is helping veterans and their families heal from combat trauma through intensive training programs and family retreat opportunities, and TRX is honored to be part of the program.
Boulder Crest facilitates Posttraumatic Growth through transformative programs, world-class training and education initiatives, and research and advocacy efforts. For information on volunteering or donating, visit bouldercrest.org.