Retreat offered for Central Texas veterans suffering from PTSD

Operation: Warrior's Path retreat in Dripping Springs. (KXAN Photo/Alicia Inns)
Operation: Warrior's Path retreat in Dripping Springs. (KXAN Photo/Alicia Inns)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — In order to be able to better serve veterans who have lost hope from post-traumatic stress disorder, a local non-profit has created a retreat to try to help.

Operation: Warrior’s Path was created by veteran James Irwin–who suffered from PTSD and visited a similar conference elsewhere in the country. Afterward, he was so changed, he decided something like this needs to be offered to the veterans of Texas.

The Warrior’s Path is a five to seven day PTSD treatment program that takes place on a 36-acre retreat center near Dripping Springs. It teaches veterans to shape their own futures through alternative methods of PTSD therapy.

For example, equine therapy, in which veterans learn to control their adrenaline and cultivate trust with horses. There is also art and music therapy, sports, team building exercises, labyrinth activities, and other strategies to help the vets successfully process their combat trauma. Veterans will have the opportunity to participate in both individual and group therapy for PTSD.

“The number one killers of our veterans is not war, it’s the medications and we are here to make a difference in that and we will do it,” Irwin said.

Veterans nominated to take part in the program will be able to explore different treatment approaches. By providing both PTSD counseling and activity resources at the retreat, Irwin hopes participants will find the therapeutic solution that works best for them.

The ultimate goal, Irwin says, is to keep veterans from getting to the point where they lose their family or their career, and to stop them from pulling the trigger. This will hopefully be the place they can learn to trust and engage others with a support network and make the changes that are needed to successfully integrate back themselves into civilian life.

“You come back from battle and now here you sit, alone, in a dark room, trying to figure it out on your own. And a man who has been trained to solve his problems with guns and ammunition and support is alone. So the first thing he goes for is the gun, how do I make this stop? And that’s what we have got to fix,” Irwin said.

Veterans’ accommodations consist of two fully-furnished living cabins that house 15 people each, a commercial kitchen and full, large dining facility. Irwin says the program will start with just eight veterans and will grow to serve 15 within the first year.

To attend the retreat, a veteran can nominate themselves online or an individual can nominate a veteran they feel would benefit from this center.

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