GILFORD — The Patriot Resilient Leader Institute and Camp Resilience celebrated its fifth anniversary on Feb. 4.

Over the past five years, PRLI has held 40 Camp Resilience retreats serving 373 veterans and their families, spouses and caregivers from throughout the Northeast. The retreats are three to four days. and are offered free of charge.

A participant in a 2017 PTSD and Moral Injury Retreat said, “The feelings I have about participating and communicating with my ‘brothers and sisters’ in arms is profound. Thanks and gratification. Communicating my highly personal and painful memories has been received with compassion, understanding, and support in a non-judgmental and ‘safe’ environment.” Another participant said, “My self-confidence has increased immensely, and my depression has been lifted. I haven’t felt this good in a long time. I feel alive again after feeling like a zombie for many years.”

"The PRLI Board, our great volunteers and myself have been humbled by the success of our grass-roots support organization over our first five years. We felt from the start we were filling a real need for our veteran population and the feedback we receive from vets who attend a retreat repeatedly confirm that. It is their comments which reinforce our mission and those comments were the driving force behind our very ambitious expansion plans. The need is still there, that need is still strong, and Camp Resilience is proud to continue to help veterans coping with the visible and invisible wounds of war to move forward. As we celebrate our five years of successful programs, we especially want to thank all our veterans who've attended and our donors and grant agencies who have been with us these past five years making this journey possible," said Kurt Webber, president of PRLI and a retired Army officer.

The program is supported by area businesses and organizations, including the Gunstock Inn and Resort, Fireside Inn, Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion, Gunstock Mountain Resort, Escape Hour House in Gilford, Lake Winnipesaukee Sailing Association, New Hampshire Fire Academy, Patrick's Pub, Ellacoya Bar & Grille, and Piche's Ski & Sports Shop.

In 2018, the group ran 11 retreats, in 2019 they plan to run 20 retreats, then increase to 25 in 2020, 30 in 2021 and 40 in 2022.

In January 2019, PRLI expanded to add its first paid staff members, a program coordinator and vice president of advancement. As PRLI grows, staff is reaching out to local, regional and national organizations known for supporting veteran organizations, as well as applying for grants ,and plan to hold additional fundraising events. To learn more, visit camp-resilience.org, or email info@camp-resilience.org.

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