CRYSTAL BEACH — A new multipurpose beach retreat for wounded service members and their families may soon be calling Crystal Beach its home.
The proposed facility of more than 5,000 square feet is expected to include two-story buildings, outdoor decking, a conference center and housing for one-week respites that include counseling and other services designed to restore, empower and renew hope to wounded service members and their families through therapeutic support, project organizers said.
Architectural plans for the Lone Survivor Foundation Retreat are going through the process of windstorm engineering certification before being presented to Galveston County Commissioners for approval, said Clint Byrom of Brint Construction, which will be responsible for developing the project. Brint Construction is planning to break ground in May, he said.
Terry Jung, executive director of the Lone Survivor Foundation, said he thinks the public’s awareness was heightened about the growing need for alternative methods to assist soldiers transitioning from combat into post-military life after the success of The New York Times best-selling book, “Lone Survivor,” written by retired U.S. Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell, and the subsequent release of the motion picture of the same title. The foundation was established by Luttrell, who was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions during Operation Red Wings. Luttrell was the only survivor of the SEAL team involved in that 2005 operation in Afghanistan’s Kunar Province.
Since its inception in 2010, the foundation has raised more than $5 million to benefit combat soldiers dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder, mild traumatic brain injury, military sexual trauma and chronic pain, Jung said. The foundation’s programs are based on Luttrell’s recovery and the alternative treatments he used.
The new half-acre retreat will be comprised of two, two-story buildings — a main house and another structure that will be used as a conference center and for staff with enough room to comfortably sleep 32 people. Outdoor decking, a fire pit, landscaping and privacy fencing will add to a serene atmosphere to help soldiers returning from overseas duty adjust to civilian life, Byrom said.
“This type of retreat is unique because it deals with wounds and issues that are not immediately apparent on the outside, but just as debilitating to a soldier and his or her family,” Byrom said.
Retired U.S. Army Sgt. Robert Leonard, a retreat alumnus, said he found the experience of family mentoring invaluable.
“The reason these kinds of retreats have such great success rates is because the therapists care so much about helping the soldiers with their families, which is where so many other organizations fall short,” he said. Leonard is a Sugar Land resident who makes frequent trips to the island and is looking forward to working as a mentor at the Crystal Beach facility.
Thomas Fordyce, a retired U.S. Marine and foundation board member, agreed, saying the services and resources planned for the Bolivar facility were nonexistent when he retired from military service. Fordyce, a Vietnam-era Marine sniper who grew up in Katy and summered on the beaches of Galveston, lost his left arm in combat.
“Those attending a retreat will, without a doubt, benefit from the tranquil setting of Galveston,” he said.
A festival featuring live entertainment, food, drink and vendors will be held this weekend to raise money to support the Lone Survivor Foundation Retreat. The event is sponsored by Brint Construction, Nutty Jerry’s, the Lighthouse Charity Team and the Bolivar Peninsula community.
The project is scheduled for completion in late 2014. Sponsors, volunteers and in-kind services are still in demand. For information, visit www.lonesurvivorfoun dation.org.
At a glance
What: The Texas Frog Fest
When: 10 a.m. to midnight Saturday and 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday
Where: 200 Highway 87 in Crystal Beach
Details: Single-day tickets can be purchased at the gate for $30 or at the Big Store, 2385 Highway 87. Festival patrons will have the opportunity to purchase Texas Frog Fest and Lone Survivor Foundation items and participate in a live raffle and silent auction.
All proceeds will be donated directly to the foundation for constructing and maintaining services at the Crystal Beach retreat.
For more information about Texas Frog Fest, call Denise Lange at 409-791-4131 or visit www.facebook.com/texasfrogfest.