Retreat for wounded troops near Fayetteville gains support
By DREW BROOKS
Jun. 18, 2017
LINDEN, N.C. (AP) — Terry Jung stood under a tent and faced a group that included community leaders, judges, politicians, businessmen and more hailing from Fayetteville, Fort Bragg and the surrounding communities.
Jung, visiting from Texas, was making a pitch.
But he wasn't asking for money.
The executive director of the Lone Survivor Foundation was looking for support.
Months after the foundation, which provides therapeutic retreats for wounded service members and their families, announced plans to build a retreat north of Fayetteville, Jung was at the site of the Lone Survivor Foundation's future East Coast facility in search of something far more important than donations, he said.
He needed buy-in.
"This facility is not a Lone Survivor facility," Jung said. "This facility is a community facility."
"Fayetteville is exactly the kind of community we want to be in," he said. "The spirit of the community is what we love."
The city outside the nation's largest military installation has a unique perspective on the sacrifices and struggles of America's service members, Jung said. And there may be no better location for the foundation's second retreat.
Officials hope to break ground on the facility later this year.
The Lone Survivor Foundation was created in 2010 by former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell, who is best known for the 2007 best-selling book "Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10" and the 2013 movie "Lone Survivor" starring Mark Wahlberg.
Luttrell's physical wounds were easy to heal compared to his invisible wounds, Jung said. He coped with those wounds at his father's ranch, bringing nature, animals and therapy together.
The Lone Survivor Foundation offers free retreats based in part on Luttrell's own healing experience.
The five-day retreats combine horse-assisted therapy, neuro-feedback, art therapy, psychological education, mindfulness yoga and clinical sessions.
They are offered to individual service members and veterans, couples, families and caregivers.
Jung said the retreats are not a cure, nor is the organization about entitlements. Instead, the organization's mission is to restore hope and provide tools to help service members, active and veterans, recover from the unseen wounds of war.
The Lone Survivor Foundation built its first retreat south of Houston in Crystal Beach, Texas, in 2014. It rents additional facilities to support an ever-growing waiting list.
The organization held 16 retreats in 2015, 31 in 2016 and is expected to host 43 this year.
The foundation hopes to eventually build three or four retreat facilities. The one planned for Fayetteville would likely support 15-20 retreats each year, Jung said, but could eventually host as many as 50.
The Crystal Beach community embraced the foundation, said Tim Byrom, a member of the organization's board of directors and owner of BRINT Construction. Leaders raised money and support for the retreat. They provided labor and building supplies and other types of in-kind support.
The retreat will be much more than brick and stone, he said.
The result was a $1.2 million facility that was fully funded by the time it opened, he said. And the foundation was able to commit its funds to providing care, rather than building the retreat itself.
Jung said veterans are flown in from all over the world to attend the retreats. But most come from Texas, North Carolina, Florida and Virginia.
That's what makes Fayetteville such an appealing location. That and the large population of veterans already in the area.
And he said the foundation is already finding support.
Deborah and John Foley, who run the nonprofit Horses That Heal, are donating several acres for the retreat at Avalon Farms on East Reeves Bridge Road.
The Foley's have provided equine-assisted psychotherapy to local troops and veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress on the 20-acre farm since 2011, and have been involved with the Lone Survivor Foundation for several years.
Now, the organization is looking for more support, in the form of volunteers, ambassadors and more.
"When you build a project like this, there are so many opportunities for people to get involved," Byrom said.