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September: Nonprofit Spotlight!

Project Sanctuary

As a country, we owe it to our military service members to provide as many outlets and resources as possible to assist them in reintegration. Suicide within the ranks is a major issue that needs to be a top priority. The suicide rate among military members is at an all time high. The Department of Defense shares that in 2019, 498 service members died by suicide. The 2020 report may show some different variances due to covid-19, meaning there may be an increase from the stresses that have been caused by the pandemic. With that, we must remember the family members who are affected by these outcomes. Military spouses face different stressors when their spouses return from a deployment. They are the ones who take care of the household, finances, children, and day to day tasks. In 2018, there were 624,000 active duty military spouses, with 29.1% of them having some sort of mental illness. Not to mention the children that are affected by a parent being gone and a parent taking care of everyday life.

Enter in Project Sanctuary. Project Sanctuary was founded in 2007 by a nurse, Heather Ehle, RN, who saw that if one family member served, the entire family served. Heather thought the best way to support the troops was to support the entire family by providing counseling, education, referrals to best-fit resources and therapeutic recreation. They act as a prevention/coping resource for veteran families needing assistance in difficult times.

Danella Soeka, Director of Marketing and Communication for Project Sanctuary, states in her article shared with the VA:

“While at retreats, families are provided with sessions directed at improving relationships, financial literacy and mental health. Recreational activities are strategically designed to improve family cohesiveness by providing opportunities that create bonding, improved communication and trust. The key elements of these retreats allow for connections between veterans and other veterans, families with other families, and Project Sanctuary staff and volunteers with participants. Most importantly, our retreats bring a renewed sense of closeness and connection within the family unit.”

The support Project Sanctuary provides support for 2 year after the family attends the retreat which includes direct services and referrals to appropriate resources. There are also destination resources weekends offered 3-4 times a year that “focus on each couple’s unique and personalized needs for active duty and veteran singles or couples to build their network of support.” They then have the ability to connect with individuals who help with financial planning, psychological well-being, employment, recreation and more to lead them to a successful future.

This nonprofit is completely funded by donations and is free to the families who go on the retreats.

For more resources please visit or email them at

Resources use:

Article: Project Sanctuary by Danella Soeka

Department of Defense Releases Second Annual Suicide Report

Military Spouses’ Perceptions of Suicide in the Military Spouse Community

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