The Big Red Barn Retreat's Warrior PATHH program is continuing to remain on-track with its progression. The program will take on its first group of veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress as soon as October. Construction is continuing on a seven-bedroom, two-kitchen lodge, along with archery ranges, meditation areas and pathways through the forests of Blythewood.
The Warrior PATHH program was developed by the Boulder Crest Retreat in Virginia. It is intended to help struggling veterans overcome Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder by facilitating the new theory of post-traumatic growth, founded by Richard Tedeschi. The saying "what doesn't kill us, makes us stronger," is used to exemplify the purpose of the experience. The class consists of a seven-day, intense on-sight group curriculum with an 18 month follow-up process which consists of homework, goal-setting and reporting.
Since its inception, the program can be found at retreats in Arizona, Virginia and satellite spots in New York, Washington and Florida.
The PATHH program focuses on more holistic and ancient methods used to bring a warrior's mind at ease. Along with archery, meditation, equine therapy and fireside talks, a labyrinth has been constructed to be used to decompress struggling veterans.
Lead Warrior PATHH guide and retired US Army Sergeant Major Lamont Christian explained the purpose of the labyrinth. "There's only one way in and one way out, so walking the path of the labyrinth allows you to internalize those things that you are dealing with, creating solitude," he said.
Christian dove deep into the Native American history of labyrinths:
"In the past warriors would enter the labyrinth to prepare themselves for battle, leaving behind their loved ones and going into battle with a clear purpose, with the strength and love of their family and friends," he explained. "When the battle was over they would return and enter the labyrinth again, paying respects to their fallen enemies and friends, and leave the burdens of war behind in the center of the labyrinth. The warrior could return to their loved ones, shedding the warrior piece of their mind and return to thrive as a member of the community."
Lexington native and member of the Warrior PATHH Mobile Training Team, US Marine combat veteran Billy Britt has traveled across the country providing the program to veterans. He spoke of the positivity it can provide for many.
"This program is saving lives, it's keeping military families together, and it's ensuring that veterans keep forward progression," Britt said. "Our goal is to be so successful that one day, we are all out of jobs."
Britt described the progress he is able to see in those who participate in the program. "In the beginning we ask the veterans to draw and paint how they are feeling after some activities, which is easier said than done. It's usually chaotic, dark and uncolorful. At the end of the seven days, we ask them to do it again and compare. The pictures are night and day, and so are the veterans."
More information about the Warrior PATHH program can be found at https://www.bouldercrestretreat.org/warriorpathh