The Merritt Center, with the assistance of healing practitioners and mentors who are veterans themselves, is offering special educational retreat programs to returning combat veterans (both men and women).
Through group and individual educational activities, participants in the Returning Combat Veterans Program learn to recognize the triggers of the combat experience. They practice ways to release negativity and reorder their personal priorities through various exercises.
The Merritt Center is in a rural setting east of Payson with key elements of solitude and freedom and surrounded by mountains and trees. The 13-acre Merritt Center offers a home-like, simple retreat that allows the participants the freedom of forest exploration, a family-like setting for meals and small but welcoming accommodations.
The Merritt Center and Lodge is a non-profit retreat center in Star Valley founded in 1987 by Betty Merritt for individual or group renewal and empowerment.
For the past seven years, The Merritt Center has conducted free programs for returning combat veterans. Coordinated through many volunteers and vet mentors, the men and women veterans, in separate programs, spend four weekends over a six-month period learning how to cope with life after war.
Many of the veterans return again and again as mentors for the incoming veterans in the program. In talking about the program, Betty said, “This is a unique resource because we provide a safe space and provide a place for trust to develop quickly.”
Funding by The Merritt Center and special donors to provide the experience is pro bono for each veteran.
There are two types of retreats — one that takes place over four different weekends and another that is a seven-day program.
The free four-weekend Welcome Home Program is for those who served in a combat zone and want to give themselves a gift of re-entry and integration while in a nurturing, safe space. The experience focuses on ceremony, healing and creating a new life cycle.
The four-weekend program retreat dates:
• Women’s Program for Vets Returning from Combat: Feb. 21-23, April 25-27, June 20-22 and graduation Aug. 8-10.
Men’s Program for Returning Combat Vets: March 7-9, May 16-18, July 11-13 and graduation Sept. 19-21.
• Dates for the seven-day program: for women, April 23-30; men, May 14-21.
Space is limited. Application/prescreening forms are being accepted now at www.merrittcenter.org/vets/Application.pdf.
For additional details, call (928) 474-4268 or 1-800-414-9880, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Upcoming sessions: Train the Trainer Overview Workshop, June 5-8; Advanced Vet Mentor Training to prepare Mentors for Leadership in the Program, for men, June 27-29, for women, July 25-27. The sessions cost $150 per vet per weekend or $600 for four weekends or the seven-day program. To help cover the cost for a vet, call (928) 474-4268 or 800-414-9880. To make a donation, go to www.merrittcenter.org or send a check to: The Merritt Center, P.O. Box 2087, Payson, AZ 85547.
(Portions of this story are from an article provided to the Roundup by Marie Fasano in November 2013.)