In a time when many of America’s soldiers return from the battlefields with post-traumatic stress disorder, a time when 22 veterans die by suicide every day, Donna Finicle of Woodland Park is a guardian angel.
Founder of Welcome Home, Warrior, Finicle, along with Kay Castle, Doloretta Barber and a team of volunteers, hosts retreats for soldiers, veterans and their families. “The retreats are designed to help our military reconnect with help and support,” she said. “We want them to have quality time with their families.”
After nine retreats, the most recent this month at Golden Bell in Divide, Finicle has changed her approach to providing emotional support. “We’re doing more therapeutic things,” she said. “We are finding that, over time, families are having more trouble after these multiple deployments. It’s not good.”
In conjunction with Aspen Pointe, the retreat offers art therapy as well as volunteer counselors from the peer-navigator program. “The program is veterans helping veterans make the transition to civilian life,” Finicle said.
The retreat in October began Friday night with a drumming circle to enhance the calming and centering mood of the weekend.
On Saturday, the participants are welcome to take a nature walk through the woods led by a group from Westcliffe that includes a naturalist/forest ranger and several musicians.
In the afternoon, the parents are treated to a spa day, with manicures, pedicures and facials provided by Annette Bright’s A Cut Above the Clouds, a salon in Woodland Park. “They are marvelously wonderful to help our families relax,” Finicle said.
Anne Stratton and Robert Moberly also provide Reiki therapies. “Reiki is so non-invasive,” she said. “Reiki calms them down; a lot of these guys don’t like to be touched. They’re very locked up and on guard.”
Saturday night the retreat features a campfire with S’mores and a sing-along with “The Blooming Bush Women” of Westcliffe.
The work of WHW has reached as far as Alaska where the leader of a team providing services to veterans, many of them involved in domestic-violence cases, traveled to Woodland Park. “They came to be mentored by us,” Finicle said.
Finicle credits WHW volunteers Doloretta and Bob Barber for their Yellow Ribbon campaign for helping to fund the retreat. Other donors to the nonprofit organization include the Community Investment Fund and the Cripple Creek & Victor Mining Co. Two area churches promote tithing for the organization, Mountain View United Methodist and Our Lady of the Woods Catholic churches; in addition to private donations. Seventeen military families attended the retreat that offered free child care.