Adirondack Healing for Veterans

Creative Healing Connections' Adirondack retreat helps female veterans recouperate in a relaxed natural setting.

In the summer of 2012, three women drove from Chicago to attend a healing retreat for women veterans on the shores of Lake George. Others came from Buffalo, New York City, and other parts of New York State, and one tried to fly in from Australia.

Thirteen years ago, Creative Healing Connections held its first retreat for women living with cancer at Great Camp Sagamore. Eight women attended. In April 2012, the August retreat for women veterans already had a waiting list. As a consequence a second women veterans' retreat was added for the following summer and a new retreat for women spouses and partners of those who serve in the military was planned in cooperation with Homeward Bound Adirondacks for Spring 2013.

"There is no other program like it in the country," said one disabled veteran named Octavia who was returning for her second time.

Whether for veterans or women living with cancer and other chronic diseases, or for active duty pre-deployment soldiers, the retreats all create safe spaces for the participants to share their experiences, learn techniques to enhance their quality of life, offer participation in a wide array of arts activities designed to help people individually and or collectively share their experiences, and draw on the healing power of nature.

Creative Healing Connections is an Adirondack Foundation success story. Initially Great Camp Sagamore was their fiscal agent, but as they grew, Adirondack Foundation first took on that role and then shepherded them through the process of becoming their own 501(c)(3). They developed their by-laws, incorporation papers and established a board of directors. Adirondack Foundation has remained a coach and facilitator, and their go-to resource for nonprofit management and fundraising issues.

Yet CHC's growing popularity comes with great challenges. Their goal is to maintain an open door policy so that any person who wishes to attend can afford to do so. Current economic conditions have resulted in over half of their participants requesting scholarships, up a third from previous years. As a consequence Creative Healing Connections has to raise approximately 70% of their income to enable them to serve the growing number of people who seek their services, the majority of whom come from the North Country – especially along the southern tier.

For those who wish to donate to Creative Healing Connections and help veterans, please visit creativehealingconnections.org