Fact Sheet: Operation Heal Our Patriots
Operation Heal Our Patriots is a program of Samaritan’s Purse designed to strengthen the marriages of wounded and injured members of the U.S. Military. The program includes a weeklong wilderness retreat at Samaritan Lodge Alaska providing physical and spiritual renewal to wounded veterans, active duty service members, and their spouses.
With picturesque scenery, individual cabins for couples and a dedicated staff, couples are allowed to escape the pressures of home and focus on renewing their marriages. During the week, couples participate in biblically based marriage enrichment classes, devotions and recreation activities ranging from bear watching to fishing, kayaking and hiking.
Operation Heal Our Patriots is the only program of its kind for wounded military service members and their spouses. Extending beyond couples’ stay at Samaritan Lodge Alaska, the program provides ongoing aftercare to connect couples with military chaplains and churches in their local communities and creates a system of support upon their return home. The aftercare program constantly connects with the couples through a minimum of 10 touch points each year with purpose of encouraging and equipping as well as providing resourcing, crisis care, and prayer support. Solidifying a relationship with local church family and reestablishing the husband/wife relationship are primary goals.
Coping with an injury can be incredibly difficult for military service members and the stress of this new reality can significantly impact a marriage. In 2011, approximately 30,000 military personnel marriages ended in divorce, according to the U.S. Department of Defense (USA Today, December 2011). Through Operation Heal Our Patriots, Samaritan’s Purse is working to help strengthen and preserve the marriages of those wounded while serving our country.
Operation Heal Our Patriots is open to current and former military service members who were wounded in combat or combat-related activities after Sept. 11, 2001. Each season 150 couples are flown to Alaska. Couples interested in participating submit applications online. All expenses, including accommodations, airfare and activities, are covered by Samaritan’s Purse through donations. Since 2012, more than 350 couples have experienced Operation Heal Our Patriots.
Operation Heal Our Patriots opened for its first Alaskan summer season in June of 2012. Samaritan Lodge Alaska is open annually from June until mid-September, and guests arrive on Sunday and stay through Friday evening. The aftercare program has been establish to follow each couple for life.
The retreat center, Samaritan Lodge Alaska, is located in the village of Port Alsworth, Alaska, approximately 150 miles southwest of Anchorage. Nestled in the Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, the lodge is surrounded by mountains, glaciers, waterfalls and wildlife. All lodge facilities and activities are handicapped accessible.
Samaritan's Purse, headed by Franklin Graham, is an international Christian relief and evangelism organization working in more than 100 countries to provide aid to victims of war, disease, disaster, poverty, famine and persecution. For more information, visit SamaritansPurse.org or OperationHealOurPatriots.org.