CRYSTAL BEACH – The Bolivar Peninsula will soon be the home of a facility that aims to help injured veterans better adjust to civilian life.
The Lone Star Foundation on Saturday broke ground on its first multipurpose beach retreat that will offer counseling and other services to veterans and their families.
“We’re looking for an opportunity to create a spot where folks can come to heal,” said Denise Grant, the program director for the Lone Survivor Foundation.
The half-acre retreat in the Surfside subdivision in Crystal Beach will include a house and a conference center with enough room to sleep 32 people. Room will be provided for foundation staff, and the two structures will be connected via walkways. The retreat will also feature a fire pit, outdoor decking, privacy fencing and landscaping.
The retreat will provide a serene location where veterans suffering from combat stress, chronic pain, military sexual assault and concussions can relax with their families and learn how to deal with the aftereffects of war.
Marcus Luttrell, the Lone Survivor Foundation founder and chairman, said involving the family is key to helping veterans.
“You can help the veterans get back into a discombobulated family, and he’ll just digress back to where he was,” Luttrell said.
Luttrell was a Navy SEAL and part of a four-member team sent in 2005 to capture a Taliban leader in Afghanistan. The mission went awry, and the team soon sound themselves in a gunbattle with Taliban fighters. Only Luttrell survived. After retiring from the Navy, Luttrell chronicled the events of his team in the best-selling book “Lone Survivor,” which was later made into a movie starring Mark Wahlberg.
Plans for the Bolivar retreat began in 2011, when the Byrom family, which owns Brint Construction, a peninsula-based construction company, met Luttrell and learned about the Lone Survivor Foundation. Wanting to do something to help veterans, the family decided it would put their construction skills to good use.
In 2013, the family contacted the foundation, and plans were underway for the facility that broke ground Saturday.
Luttrell and foundation and community leaders symbolically broke ground by shoveling dirt around four pilings on the cleared ground. Small boxes holding encouraging notes from attendees were placed in the ground near the base of the pilings to be covered with soil. Afterward, attendees were encouraged to add more dirt themselves.
The retreat is scheduled to be completed late this year. Fundraising is still continuing. As part of that effort, Terry Jung, the foundation’s executive director, announced that the foundation would be creating a “legacy wall” at the retreat. Bricks honoring a late veteran, a living veteran or a current soldier can be purchased for the wall.
Jung praised the Bolivar Peninsula community for embracing the project. Last month’s Texas Frog Fest raised money for the project, and donations have shown just how important the project is to the community.
“This has become a community project,” he said. “It is wonderful to see a uniting the way it has occurred here. It’s not only us building a facility to help veterans, it’s a community coming together.”