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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Arizona's Merritt Center Treats Returning Troops to Peaceful Retreat

A book signing at Tempe's Changing Hands Bookstore this summer gave me the pleasure of meeting Betty Merritt, founder of the Merritt Center and Lodge in Payson, Arizona. She told us about her center's healing retreats for veterans:

The Merritt Center Complimentary Veterans Retreats

Through group and individual activities, participating veterans will learn to recognize the triggers of negative combat experience and learn ways to release negativity and reorder their personal priorities. They will learn to cleanse themselves of toxins of mind, body, emotions and spirit. The final retreat weekend will include family members who will join in a celebration of service and the awakening of a new vision of their future.

All returning veterans are welcomed to participate free of charge.

Male Retreat Dates
Nov. 30-Dec. 2, 2007
January 11-13, 2008

Female Retreat Dates
October 11-14, 2007
Dec. 14-16, 2007

The Merritt Center, P.O. Box 2087, Payson, AZ 85547
Phone: (928) 474-4268 [directions]

Application/Pre-screening Forms
MS Word :: PDF

You can contact the Merritt Center and Lodge via their online contact form. You can also send an e-mail to OR call: 1-800-414-9880.

The Payson Rondup features Merritt's work this weekend along with news of an Octoberfest fundraiser.

Click on 'Article Link' below tags for more...

From the Payson Roundup:

Betty's energy is boundless. She conducts the programs and often cooks healthy home-style meals herself. In her empowerment programs, she teaches what she calls the Cycle of Life. During the sessions, the participants ask themselves three questions. Who am I? Why am I here? What do I value? She teaches, "We do not have to be a victim. We can dream to create a new structure."

This retreat attempts to help the veteran create a new structure by addressing four areas, the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual in a four-weekend program. There is time to talk, walk around the grounds and in the forest, relax in the hammocks, eat healthy snacks anytime and learn exercises and techniques to help them at home. When they leave they have phone numbers of the veteran mentors and others from the program that they can call 24 hours a day.

Details on program components:

The 13-acre Merritt Center offers a home-like, simple retreat in a rural area of Star Valley near Payson that allows the participants the freedom of forest exploration, a family-like setting for meals and small, but welcoming, accommodations.

For the physical sessions, they take walks in the forest and learn Trauma Release Exercises (TRE). David Berceli developed the TRE tools and has years of experience in trauma intervention. He has conducted post-deployment training in combat operational stress for the military. ...[he] believes the body stores memory. These exercises elicit mild tremors that release deep chronic tension in the body to assist the individual in the trauma healing process. ...

In talking about the Returning Veterans Program, Betty said, "This is a unique resource because we provide a safe space and provide a place for trust to develop quickly." All the people who work in this program are volunteers -- from the people who conduct the daily programs, to those who facilitate the groups and cook the meals.

Betty learned from the vets that, "Combat is nasty stuff," and with the help of veterans, she started the program because, for her, and others, "War hurts my heart." ...The Returning Veterans Program, costs the Merritt Center about $150 for each participant, each weekend. With the help of the many volunteers and private donations, the retreat remains free to any returning combat veteran of any war.

A way to support their much-needed work:

On Saturday, Oct. 20 there will be an Octoberfest fund-raiser at the Merritt Center to make this retreat available to many more veterans. For information call 928-474-4268. ...

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