During the 20 years war raged on in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States Military’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) personnel community was impacted heavily as many EOD warriors were severely injured and killed on the battlefields. At the same time, more EOD Warriors have died by suicide than on the battlefield.
Ken Falke served as an EOD technician for 21 years in the United States Navy and saw first-hand the horrors of war. Following his retirement from service, Falke and his wife founded the EOD Warrior Foundation in 2004, designed to take care of severely injured bomb disposal personnel. A few years later, Falke sold his company and began to pursue his Master's at Georgetown University. Between classes, Falke would drive up Wisconsin Avenue in Washington D.C. to Bethesda Naval Hospital to visit with injured service members and their families. Soon, Falke and his wife decided to switch things up.
“We started bringing families from the hospitals to visit our house, primarily for weekend barbecues and overnight stays, just to get them away from these long hospital stays and have a home away from home,” Falke said. “We saw what joy getting these families out of the hospital really brought them. One night, I came home from school, and my wife and a couple of her friends were sitting at my dining room table. They called me into the room and I sat down with them and they said, ‘We've got an idea.’”
Falke and his wife ended up donating 37 acres of their 200-acre estate and a substantial cash contribution and built the nation’s first privately-funded wellness center for veterans and their families. This center is now called Boulder Crest Foundation, a wellness foundation that focuses, develops, and delivers programs based on the science of posttraumatic growth. Falke added that the foundation uses a holistic approach to helping its participants heal their minds, bodies, spirituality, and finances with the hope that they “can turn their lives around, make better decisions, and live the great lives they deserve in the aftermath of their trauma.”
“I think we have the potential to transform the way our country does mental healthcare,” Falke said.
To learn more about Boulder Crest Foundation, visit its website here. Also, check out Boulder Crest's latest video below.
Photo credits: Courtesy of Boulder Crest Foundation’s Instagram