BANDERA – Twenty-two veterans commit suicide each day and a law enforcement officer takes his or her own life every 17 to 18 hours. Now, a brand new private treatment facility is opening in efforts to help diminish those staggering statistics.
Warriors Heart is built on a 543-acre ranch off Purple Sage Road in Bandera.
"Once we saw the ranches, we were like, 'This is it.' This is such a peaceful healing environment. We've got the lakes, the pastures where they feel at home. It's serene. There's not the hustle and bustle of the outdoor life to distract them," said Lisa Lannon, Co-founder of Warriors Heart.
It's the first private treatment facility in the nation dedicated to veterans, first responders, and law enforcement.
"We really want to break that stigma that our warriors have to be tough and it's not ok to get help. It is okay. It makes them stronger. It makes them stronger for their families and their communities once they get rid of the emotional wounds," Lannon said.
To block emotional trauma, many of our nation's heroes turn to drugs and alcohol.
"We have coping mechanisms, but sometimes they start to overwhelm. We've seen too much," said Lannon. "Maybe it's a friend, a loved one, a baby, women and children. Maybe it's the traumas of life and death, robberies, war, it takes its toll on a person."
Reaching out for help isn't easy. Speaking out about battling drug addiction or PTSD isn't either, especially in a room full of strangers.
That's when the founders of Warriors Heart came up with an idea. They wanted to create a private treatment facility so veterans, first responders, and law enforcement officers could speak with each other, knowing first-hand what it's like to work with life and death situations on a daily basis.
It's a minimum 28-day program helping save the lives of men and women who dedicate their lives to saving others.
The program starts with a detox from the addictive substance. From there, experts will dig deeper.
"Then we can really drive into the underlying causes," said Lannon. "The PTSD, the trauma, the grief from moral injury, all the things that were causing them to use in the first place."
Warriors Heart aims to heal the patient's whole body, mind, and spirit through their programs. They offer meditation, yoga and a complete gym on-site.
"We do animal assisted therapy with dogs, we have a metal shop where the guys can go and pound metal. They make tomahawks through a foundation called Mission 22 or Elder Heart. They do a lot of intensive group work, individual therapy," Lannon said.
To help veterans who don't have the means to pay for treatment, Warriors Heart is also working on joint accreditation, the gold seal of approval, which will allow them to get TRICARE and TriWest VA certifications.
"We're also giving scholarships in some cases and opened a nonprofit that anyone can donate too to help if costs are not covered by insurance. We don't want our veterans and first responders to become one of those statistics. We're here to get them back home mentally," said Lannon.
The grand opening of Warriors Heart is Oct. 15; they had their soft opening in April.
Warriors Heart also has a free 24-hour crisis line (844-448-2567) to give first responders, veterans, and law enforcement officers the help they need, even if it's not through the Warriors Heart program.
Walk-ins are not accepted. For more information on Warriors Heart and how to get started, visit http://www.warriorsheart.com/.