EDUCATION

Wounded veterans retreat planned in Loudoun County

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Some wounded troops will soon be able to escape to a local rural sanctuary.
Loudoun County recently approved plans for a retreat in Bluemont to provide space for about 500 wounded veterans every year.

Army Staff Sergeant Brian Mast says he'd love to spend more time with his family in the countryside.

“When you're at the hospital, it always feels like the hospital, always like doctor’s office,” Mast said.

Mast spent most of the past year at Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval hospitals recovering from injuries he suffered in Afghanistan. He stepped on what he thinks was most likely a pressure plate. The resulting injury was a double above-the-knee amputation.

Retired Navy bomb disposal technician Ken Falke is building the retreat so that veterans like Mast need to get away from the hospital. Boulder crest retreat will stand on land he and his wife donated in Loudoun County, where they're hoping to break ground by Veterans Day. A $10 million fundraising effort is underway.

“The main thing we want to offer is a place to relax and reconnect,” Falke said, with four handicap accessible cabins and a large meeting house.

Falke says activities like gardening, fishing and being in nature can be therapeutic.

“We think there are a lot of therapies that help guys and gals get focused and get bad things out of minds … we hope that being here will surely put them in a better place,” he said.

Tim Maxwell suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2004 and now counsels wounded warriors nationwide. The retired Marine Corps officer has visited places like Boulder Crest, which he says can ease the loneliness that veterans can experience when leaving their unit.

“It would have such an impact on their life, I'm not just talking about morale for week, I'm talking about lifetime change,” Maxwell said. “It's more than a retreat- it's more like their home- place they're going to come back.”

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