Some veterans return from war zones with visible injuries—bruises, breaks, and missing limbs—but many return with invisible scars. Boulder Crest, a non-profit warrior care facility, helps veterans and their families cope with both types of trauma. As a veteran-founded company, TRX is proud to support Boulder Crest and recently made a $25,000 donation to help the organization continue its important rehabilitative work with our military heroes.
Founders 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 were 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.
“We had a really rough year just for EOD personnel from about 2011-12,” Falke explained. “[Julia and I] were going to the hospital almost every other day to meet a new family. We had 71 amputees in 52 weeks. We started bringing them out to our home—which is an hour west of DC in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia—for these families to be able to get some respite from that hospital setting.”
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.
“Amputees were getting a lot of attention because their injuries were visible. The folks with PTSD, mild traumatic brain injuries, the ones that were having substance abuse issues, having hard times, were not getting the help they needed,” Falke said. “The veteran community has a suicide rate of 20 a day. That's a crazy statistic. 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.”
According to Falke, 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 it, 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. “Guys get in there, their therapist says something silly like, ‘Oh, I know how you must feel,’ and then the guy says, ‘Well, how do you know how I feel? You didn't kill anybody. You didn't see your best friend blown up.’“
Boulder Crest considered those obstacles when building their peer-based post-traumatic growth plan. Staffers are combat veterans, which creates an instant level of relatability with the participants. Beyond that, Falke describes Boulder Crest programming as a “training program” rather than a “therapy program” because the organization is training veterans to live a great life. 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.
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.
“On the fitness side, we've had a partnership with TRX for a couple of years. Every person that comes through Warrior PATHH leaves with a set of straps, so they have their own gym,” Falke said.
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 their 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.