I come from a military and first responder family. One lesson I took from my grandfather and father is that service never stops. It’s on each of us to do what we can to make the world a better place. As a veteran myself, I can’t live in a world where we lose more of my brothers and sisters in the military and first responder communities to suicide each year than we do while they’re in the line of duty. That’s why I’ve created the Boulder Crest Foundation. Over the last 13 years, we’ve helped 67,000 combat veterans, first responders and their families transform their struggles into strength through the science of post-traumatic growth.
The problem I’m trying to solve
Many veterans are struggling with the invisible wounds of war. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that almost 30 percent of the veterans that deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from PTSD. The evidence is clear when you look at their suicide rates. The average number of veteran suicides per day was almost 17 in 2020, according to the 2022 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Report.
First responders struggle with similar mental health challenges. More police officers and firefighters die every year from suicide than they do in the line of duty. Our goal is to help them transform their struggles into strength through something called posttraumatic growth programs. We call it PATHH – Progressive and Alternative Training for Helping Heroes.
The moment that sparked my passion
In 2010, my wife and I began to host families of wounded warriors at our home in Bluemont, Virginia. We then donated 37 acres of our estate and built the nation’s first privately funded retreat for veterans and their families, opening our doors in September 2013. At an early retreat, I had a wife tell me, “I wish my husband had lost his legs. He’d be treated like a hero. Instead, he has PTSD and is treated like a criminal.” We can’t treat people who fight for this country this way. That was when I knew I had to do something better.