At every Bonfire retreat the same thing occurs in the beginning, the six attending veterans are introduced as they arrive, they begin to ask the typical questions, what branch, where did you serve, where were you deployed, what was your MOS and did you know so and so? All these questions of course build commonality and understanding of each other’s experience level, on top of the knowledge that everyone there has been verified as a veteran that saw combat and was injured at the hand of the enemy, which ultimately plants the seeds of trust. “The ability to meet others that know what you have gone through, without even saying anything, is priceless,” commented Air Force Purple Heart, Shelly C.
However, at this particular event, the connectivity of this group was way beyond any we have seen before. This bond was indescribable. The difference, they came together and shared their pain, like always through the guidance of our retreat staff, but took it a step further and grew the support network well beyond the norm, as this group didn’t hold back any vulnerabilities. “We came together to share our stories of how we came to be and to show each other we were not alone and that as brothers and sisters of the Armed Forces we will always be here for each other,” stated Purple Heart Marcus R. The members of this group were from all walks of life, very different individuals with three common threads, the love of their service, the love of the military and their wounds from combat. Their specific struggles were met with love, understanding, and compassion.
The compassion was genuine and clean, not filled with pity, questions or judgment.
“As a parent, you are genuinely happy to see your children succeed on their own and fly from the nest, this is the way I felt about this group of veterans on this particular event. I was filled with joy to see the true bonds of friendship and support they found in each other and with such little help from the staff other than our group therapy introductions of subjects and sharing,”
Helen Phillips Vice Present and Retreat Assistant. By the end of the weekend, at the Bonfire this group of combat warriors were literally connected arm and arm in a chain of support.
This retreat’s agenda, although challenged by very uncharacteristic snow on the second day of summer, offered additional down time for one of one conversations which played a huge role in this unique connectivity. Between golf at Fort Carson, fishing at Granby Lake up in the Rockies and a healing dip in the hot sulfur springs, this group created a true support network. We thank Granby Ranch for their hospitality and special treatment at The Granby Ranch Grill, the Rotary Club of Highlands Ranch for the golf sponsorship, golf lessons and welcome bags, Lane Meeks and Ken Jensen for the hosting fishing on Granby Lake and all our supporters for playing important roles in all we do. (Click here to see all our photos from this event)