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Veterans retreat to provide support and healing in Arizona this weekend

(AP Photo/Jim Mone)

PHOENIX — One hundred veterans will participate in a weekend retreat in Arizona that aims to provide support and healing.

Operation Restoring Veteran Hope will offer activities including kayaking, horseback riding, meditation and inspirational speakers.

“Our mission for this retreat was to provide a space out in nature that would promote healing and relaxation while allowing the veterans to also be able to engage with peer support,” Jessica Morel told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Thursday.

Morel is the national program director of the Stop, Drop and Push Campaign, one of the organizations helping to run the retreat.

Of the 100 veterans attending St. Joseph’s Camp near Mormon Lake this weekend, 85 are participants and 15 are peer support partners who are also veterans.

Ray Perez, the founder of Operation Restoring Veteran Hope, said he understands what the participants are going through.

“I have been through the struggle post-military and I know how it feels to be hopeless,” Perez said in a press release. “This retreat is a place for veterans to be with other veterans that have similar experiences so that together we can restore hope within us.”

The retreat coincides with Suicide Awareness Month, which Morel said will be a focus of the weekend.

“The program … is really focusing on giving a way for veterans to not have to go down that road of despair,” she said.

Trained crisis counselors will be available for the veterans.

“I want them to know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that they are not alone,” Perez said.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Ali Vetnar contributed to this report.

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