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Retreat Team Spotlight – Paula Bonebrake, LPC, NCC

Retreat Team Spotlight – Paula Bonebrake, LPC, NCC

I am Paula Bonebrake, the Lone Survivor Foundation Retreat Program Director and a Licensed Professional Counselor.  I have worked with LSF for 2 years and have truly enjoyed being part of the healing process for so many veterans and their family members.  I live with my husband and three children in Oklahoma.  I am involved in my church and community and enjoy spending time with family and friends.  My favorite places to vacation are in the mountains, hiking with my family.

My passion for working with military members and their families began in 2004 when I took my first assignment with a Marine reserve unit as part of a contract through the DoD to provide psychological support and guidance to military members and their families through all phases of the deployment cycle.  I was able to accept assignments across the nation working with all branches of the military supporting pre and post-deployment events.  In 2010 I was blessed to move to another DoD contract and accept a position with the Oklahoma Air National Guard as the Director of Psychological Health for the 138th Fighter Wing in Tulsa.  My 6 years with the 138th gave me a new language full of acronyms and jargon my friends and family did not understand but was easy conversation when speaking military talk.  It allowed me to become an integral part of their system of care in supporting the service member and their family with the changes that accompany deployments and injuries such as PTSD, mTBI as well as military sexual trauma.

Joining the team at LSF has been amazing, full of opportunities to assist veterans and their families in their healing journey through therapeutic modalities within a safe and relaxed environment.  The retreat environment allows the participant to focus on the issues they want to address without the distractions that crowd our lives in our home environment and they bond with the other participants and develop friendships that last well beyond their retreat.  The amount of progress achieved in such a short amount of time is incredible.  Witnessing the strength and renewed hope of the participants as they make this progress keeps me motivated and looking forward to the next retreat.

LSF has given me the opportunity to develop different retreat types and curriculum to meet the needs of multiple veteran populations.  Since I have started with LSF we have added Male MST, Law Enforcement Officer/Veteran as well as Firefighter, First Responder/Veteran and Care Partner retreats.  Creating a solution to meet veterans’ and their family’s needs is highly valued and supported by LSF.

My favorite things about the retreats are the people, both the participants and high-quality providers and chefs we have at the retreats.  Having amazing staff is a key ingredient to a successful retreat.  I enjoy seeing the changes in a participant’s face from the first day to the last.

These are a some of my favorite things:  Witnessing their healing and relief, walking the beach with them, chats at the fire pit, singing karaoke, laughing until our faces hurt, meals together and the phenomenal food, service dogs, raising the flag, rides in the golf cart, dance parties with the families, horses,  the beautiful beach house, tiny hands, hearing a participant say they slept through the night without a nightmare after resolving a haunting memory at the retreat, watching friendships develop, plans being made to continue with the renewed hope and energy they experienced, watching couples and families connect and understand one another in a way that strengthens and restores those relationships, watching the joy of a veteran and their family being able to enjoy fireworks for the first time since returning from deployment, when  participants replace their inner turmoil with newfound peace.

The life-changing experience these veterans and families have are only possible through those that support LSF.  The gold standard therapeutic modalities and retreat setting give them a healing experience which they would not have the ability to have except through generous supporters.  I am happy to be with the LSF organization which places the needs of the veteran and families as the priority and being wise stewards of donations received to accomplish the mission.  Never Quit!

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