Ken Faulke asked those who have served or currently serving in the audience to stand.
“The ones that were standing up and the few that can’t stand up because they’re in wheelchairs today, this if for you,” Ken Faulke said.
Boulder Crest Retreat is 60 miles northwest of Washington D.C. in Bluemont nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The retreat, once completed, will offer nature walks, gardening, foraging, photography, bird and wildlife watching, archery and other outdoor activities. There will also be off-site activities such as tubing and kayaking on the Shenandoah River or hiking the Appalachian Trail.
The groundbreaking ceremony for Boulder Crest Retreat for Wounded Warriors, welcomed several wounded warriors, veterans and Loudoun County officials May 18. The new retreat, the brainchild of Ken and Julia Faulkes, will offer a local rural getaway for wounded veterans from some Army medical centers in the area.
Settled in the western hills of Loudoun, Boulder Crest offers a secluded area for wounded warriors and their families with wide-open spaces for them to get out of the hospital environment.
The event featured Dana Bowman, a former Special Forces soldier and member of the U.S. Army’s elite parachute team – The Golden Knights – who parachuted from a plane. Bowman, who in 1994 lost both legs in a mid-air collision, landed at the site of the Boulder Crest Retreat with two prosthetic legs after a three to four minute descent fully equipped with smoke and an American flag trailing behind him.
Boulder Crest Retreat for Wounded Warriors is a nonprofit organization with the goal to provide a free, “first-class haven” for wounded veterans and their families.
Adam Popp stands proud and tall. One can barely notice he’s walking on a prosthetic leg. In December 2007, while serving in Afghanistan in the U.S. Air Force, Popp lost his right leg above the knee and damaged the soft tissue in his right arm.
After spending a year at the old Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Popp needed to get out and be normal again.
“I was there (Walter Reed) for about a year and when we visit the guys, they have a better building now in Bethesda, it’s like a two bedroom apartment,” Popp said. “But still, you’re cooped up in hotel basically for a year, sometimes longer. This place is great. They’re cooped up in a hotel room, they’re in the hospital everyday doing rehab or surgeries, and they never get a chance to get out of that clinical environment. Especially, for me, when I was in the hospital, it was good to just go and sit on somebody’s couch or just hang out and feel normal – like, you’re not at the hospital 24/7. So, this has basically been a problem and Boulder Crest will solve that problem.”
Popp, who is part of the Wound EOD Warrior Foundation, visits wounded soldiers returning from Afghanistan. The foundation focuses on EOD, or Explosive Ordnance Disposal, soldiers who have come back from Afghanistan. The foundation visits them at the hospital, gives them a grant package and helps their families with travel, hotels and anything they need.
Barbara Brown’s son, Tim Brown, stepped on an improvised explosive device February 2011 in Afghanistan while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps. He lost both his legs and his arm.
Barbara Brown said that her son was inpatient at Bethesda’s Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for only three months and has been outpatient ever since.
Although her son is progressing, Barbara Brown says his recovery will take more than two years. Serving as both his mother and his non-medical attendant, she says “it’s an interesting balance of holding on and letting go” taking care of him.
But, with a place like Boulder Crest, Barbara Brown feels like it’s the place that will ultimately save her son.
“I heard a study one time that just being in nature is such a mood elevator, such a helpful thing, that for one,” she said. “Being out of the hospital environment, being back in the real world. He loved the outdoors. And this way he’ll be out in it in a relaxing setting. It’s gorgeous.”
The idea came when the Faulkes purchased the 37-acre plot a year ago. Ken Falke is a retired U.S. Navy explosive ordinance disposal technician and master chief petty officer and a service-disabled Navy veteran.
“It’s been a long time coming. We started this project two years ago, in June 2010 it became an idea. With a lot of hard work and a lot of great support from the county we had a site approved in just under a year,” Ken Faulke said.
Luck Stone Quarry also donated more than $100,000 worth of gravel to Boulder Crest to get roads built into the retreat.
“This is a huge value added project to the county, it really is,” Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Vice-chair Janet Clarke (R-Blue Ridge) said. “You have your revenue producing products and you have your quality of life and other types of value added projects and this is where that falls into.”
Clarke’s grandfather, who passed away two weeks ago, was the oldest surviving Marine veteran to serve in Iwo Jima, so Boulder Crest holds a special spot in her heart.
“What I’ve done is nothing in comparison to what all has been do by you and many here,” Clarke said . “I’m humbled to be in the presence of so many who’ve sacrificed lives and the many aspects surrounding military service and all the contributions to making this happen.”
The Falkes are targeted for an initial capital raise of $10 million, of which $5 million will fund the physical construction of the retreat. The construction includes four handicap accessible “greentech” cabins, meeting house with organic farm-to-table meals, walled organic garden and field, bird sanctuary and fishing pond. The remaining funds would support operating costs for the first five years of operation. For more information on the retreat visit bouldercrestretreat.org.
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