By Eric Dehm
BLUEMONT, Va. — Ken Falke had served in the United States Navy for decades, retiring from the Explosive Ordinance Disposal community as a Master Chief Petty Officer.
Next, he found success with a company he started after his Navy career came to an end.
When Falke sold that successful company, he was set for life.
He, and his wife, didn’t need to do anything more than sit back and relax on his property in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains.
But Falke was just getting started.
He and his wife had already founded the EOD Warrior Foundation but they wanted to look into creating a place for combat vets to get away.
Initially, he had planned to build a couple cabins for use by wounded vets specifically within the EOD community.
That idea changed when he came across a double amputee at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
The young man was sitting alone watching a football game when Falke sat with him and they began to talk. He found that the man had no family to speak of, and spent much of his time at the hospital alone.
“As I was driving home,”Falke recalls. “The more I was thinking about it, we can’t just build a couple cabins. We’ve got to do more and we’ve got to open this up to any and all who have served in combat.”
The Boulder Crest Retreat (BCR) was the result of this change in plans. The retreat sits on land nestled in the picturesque foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. the property contains four large cabins capable of comfortably housing six people in each along with a lodge, a large garden, archery ranges, horses, a stocked fishing pond and more.
The setting is beautiful, the facilities state of the art, but what is most impressive is the type of care being given to combat vets dealing with injuries either physical, mental or both.
Falke took the time to travel around the nation researching what was, and was not, working when it came to helping vets become the productive members of society they were before they set foot on the battlefield. As a result of that research, BCR instituted a unique therapeutic regimen.
“We’ve been teaching this program called ‘Warrior PATHH'” Falke explains. “It stands for Progressive and Alternative Training for Healing Heroes. We consider heroes to be anyone who goes off to war, and comes back and shares that experience in a positive way.”
And that’s what combat vets are encouraged to do at BCR. They share their experiences, they learn from each other, and their environment, how best to deal with the stresses being a combat vet can cause within one’s life.
BCR serves those combat veterans for 8 months out of the year. For the other four months, woven through the calendar and often in the days surrounding holidays, the retreat is available for families of combat vets to come unwind and get away from it all.
“We’re really focused on R&R, what we call Rest & Reconnection,” Falke says. “Four months out of the year we set aside so that families separated by deployment, or in the hospital, that need a break are able to come out and just relax.”
Falke, and the rest of the staff at BCR are looking to the future and are planning to be able to provide even more relaxation for families and recovery for combat vets as they have purchased land and begun work on opening a second facility in Arizona in the near future.