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USO/National Military Family Association Retreats Help Families Rebuild

Thursday, August 29, 2013

From Staff Reports  

Sometimes you need to step away from a situation to learn from it.

USO/National Military Family Association Operation Purple Healing Adventures Retreats allow wounded, ill and injured troops and their families to do just that. The retreats allow attendees to relax, reconnect and spend quality time learning how to play again as a family. The setting and activities help these families build coping skills and create positive experiences away from the stresses of their daily lives.

Thirteen families attended the three-day event in May at IslandWood, a 255-acre outdoor learning center in Bainbridge, Wash., just outside Seattle.

Those families worked with FOCUS (Families OverComing Under Stress) clinicians, Military Family Life Consultants and both National Military Family Association and IslandWood staff to create a special experience.

USO Northwest Director Don Leingang was able to witness the families’ bonding experience, addressing them as a group the first night of the camp.

"It is readily apparent that partnering with NMFA was right decision for the USO and our military families nationwide,” Leingang said. 

The families who attended the IslandWood camp spent three days participating in outdoor activities, therapeutic interventions, animal-assisted therapy from Pet Partners via American Humane Association and socializing during meals. 

The families had such a positive experience that they created a Facebook group to stay connected.

The USO plays a key role in the retreats by (1) consulting on programming ideas, (2) coordinating tours of local attractions, (3) coordinating with military commands to identify families who would benefit from the retreat, (4) making a substantial financial contribution to operate each co-branded retreat and (5) completing after-action assessments of the retreats to assess the retreats’ value and how they could improve.

There’s still time to be part of the 2013 retreats. Three more USO/National Military Family Association Operation Purple Healing Adventures Camps are on the horizon in 2013. The camps will take place Sept. 20-23 in North East, Md., Oct. 18-21 in San Antonio and Nov. 7-10 in Nashville, Tenn.

Photo caption: USO/National Military Familiy Association Healing Adventures Retreats like this one held at Fort Campbell, Ky., help families spend quality time away from the stresses of their daily stressors. USO photos by Dave Gatley 

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