What Yoga, Meditation, Horses, Gardening, Veterans Have in Common

Washington, D.C. Most people may have a difficult time making the connection at first between yoga, meditation, horses, gardening, and our country’s military veterans. Yet the more one learns about our veterans, the more the connection makes sense.

According to the American Psychological Association, veterans are returning home with serious mental health issues. They report that 20 percent of those who serving in Afghanistan and Iraq suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or major depression. They also note that suicide rates among veterans have been increasing over the years, reaching record highs.

Photo courtesy of Boulder Crest Retreat

Boulder Crest Retreat for Military and Veteran Wellness
offers several types of complementary therapies
in their free combat stress recovery programs.

While the government may be lacking in great programs to help these veterans in need, others are taking it upon themselves to do something about it. The Boulder Crest Retreat for Military and Veteran Wellness (link) is one of those places, offering free combat recovery programs to combat veterans and their families. Their program incorporates alternative medicine therapies, such as yoga, meditation, horses, and gardening (horticulture), among other practices.

“We try to introduce therapies that people can take home with them and easily incorporate into their life,” explains Ken Falke, chairman and founder of Boulder Crest Retreat. “Yet they are also therapies that are proven to provide benefits that our veterans and their families need. They are effective and can be life-changing.”

Photo courtesy of Boulder Crest Retreat

There is research to back up the idea behind these therapies, too. According to the journal Psychiatry Investigation, engaging in horticulture therapy (gardening) helps reduce pain, improves attention, reduces stress and agitation, and lowers the usage of medications. In a recent study in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, researchers report that yoga may be effective in the reduction of PTSD.

The study showed that those who had PTSD and started doing yoga had positive changes in sleep, perceived stress, anxiety, stress, and resilience. According to research published in the journal Psychiatry Investigation, engaging in horticulture therapy (gardening) helps reduce pain, improves attention, reduces stress and agitation, and lowers the usage of medications.

Photo courtesy of Boulder Crest Retreat

The use of complementary and alternative therapies in helping veterans is even reaching the Veterans Health Administration, where they have been testing a program to help veterans that incorporates yoga, acupuncture, qigong, and health education. The results they get back are being used to further develop the program and expand on it.

“We have gone to great lengths to create a program that is effective and will provide meaningful results for our veterans,” added Falke. “We are happy to say that it has been a success so far. We look forward to helping many more in the years to come. Rather than talk about what needs to be done to make a difference, we took action and did it.”

At Boulder Crest Retreat, military combat veterans and their family members engage in a variety of programs, including yoga, meditation, music therapy, culinary therapy, equine therapy, and gardening. They also incorporate various recreational therapies that include archery and kayaking. The retreat offers combat veterans and their families the opportunity to stay free of charge for a 2-7 nights at the 37-acre retreat.

The Retreat welcomes combat veterans who are active-duty, reserve and National Guard, veterans, family members and caregivers, and Gold Star Families. Boulder Crest Retreat is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization that is funded entirely by private donations by individuals and organizations from around the country. For more information about the retreat, please go to www.bouldercrestretreat.org. View a video about the Boulder Crest Retreat here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KztgmScOQLw.


Boulder Crest Retreat for Military and Veteran Wellness is a rural sanctuary that provides free accommodations, recreational and therapeutic activities and programs to help our nation’s military and veteran personnel and their families recover and reconnect during their long journey of healing from physical and invisible wounds of war. The 37-acre retreat is located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Bluemont, Virginia, just 50 miles west of Washington, D.C. The Retreat is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and is entirely funded through private donations from individuals, foundations and corporations. For more information about Boulder Crest Retreat, please visit http://www.bouldercrestretreat.org.


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