They Are Warriors and They Are Broken – but Not Beyond Repair

Patriotic warriors take many forms. Some are in the military. Some are police. Some are firefighters. Some are EMS.

Many are fathers. Mothers. Sons. Daughters. Husbands. Wives.

When they are physically hurt, we can see their wounds. Bullets. Shrapnel. Lost limbs. You can recognize the visual impact of the attacks.

But when they are emotionally damaged . . . we often can’t. The pain can run deep – deeper than physical wounds – and you can’t see it. You don’t want to see it, because it can’t be patched up with a cast or a bandage. We don’t know how to deal with emotional trauma.

Along came a few patriots who DID recognize that and wanted to stare that pain in the face . . . and fix it.

Enter: Warriors Heart.

Founder and President Josh Lannon built and operated a number of successful treatment facilities that were/are open to everyone. However, during the operation of these facilities it became apparent that certain clients were not able to openly express the trauma they were dealing with in a safe and understanding environment. These clients needed their peers, who understood them, who had been there and done that, in order to successfully heal, become sober and healthy.

Josh and his wife Lisa Lannon, who served in the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, wanted to open a healing center that focused on the warrior class, law enforcement officers, firefighters, EMS, and military veterans together.

Tom Spooner, a 21-year veteran of the U.S. Army, including the 82nd Airborne as a Green Beret, the US Army’s 7th Special Forces Group, and ultimately in the elite US Army’s 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment Delta, joined Josh and Lisa Lannon to create Warriors Heart in Bandera, Texas.

Warriors Heart is the first in the nation, licensed, inpatient treatment facility dedicated only to the warrior class. Warriors Heart treats alcohol and chemical dependencies, PTSD, mild TBI, and a host of other anxiety and job-related issues.

Warriors Heart is a 40-bed facility that is absolutely nothing like a hospital. It resides on a 543-acre ranch that includes a number of programs that are available to clients during the basic 28-day stay. It includes two fishing lakes, a 280-acre pasture where the 4 mile “nature walk” takes place.

The chef, James Moore, U.S. Navy, was the traveling white house chef for two presidents. The food is said to be better than good.

Some additional programs include: Operation Overwatch K9 training program in which clients can work with the dogs in training to become service dog certified, and can adopt a dog to take with them when they return home. These dogs are taken from kill shelters around the country, or are owner surrenders. This program, run by Marine Brice Cavanaugh is affectionately referred to as Healing at both ends of the leash.

Elder Heart metal shop is also part of the program. Elder Heart is essentially a metal shop with a forge in which clients turn old rusted and discarded metal rail road spikes and other items into tomahawks and works of art.

Why tomahawks?

The answer is two-fold.

  1. Because these are warriors in treatment, and just because they are healing from issues that are serious, they remain warriors. The group just wants them to be healthy warriors, and to get back to work, to their squad, station, or team, or just back home sober, and healthy.
  2. Because art therapy works. But again these are warriors and to hand them a box of crayons and a coloring book would be an insult.

Sober Living is a 60-day additional program that clients can attend after successfully completing the basic 28-day program. In a short period of time, a detoxification center will be open on the Warriors Heart campus which will take a hurdle out of the way of clients who are in need of that.

Warriors Heart is fully staffed with a professional clinical staff that includes M.D., LCDL, LPC, LVNs. It’s TriCare accredited, and also accepts private insurance.

Additionally the Warriors Heart Foundation, lead by a board of directors from the warrior class, has sponsorship money that often helps with the cost of treatment.

Warriors Heart admissions department is also made up of former military and law enforcement veterans who work miracles to make sure that no warrior in need and qualified for treatment is turned away for monetary reasons.

Nearly every member of the operations, clinical, administration and support staff at Warriors Heart came from the military, firefighting service, or law enforcement agencies. They “get it” with regards to the struggles of our warrior clients, and all speak the same language.

I’ve had the pleasure of engaging Mark S. Caronna, the chaplain and outreach coordinator, in conversation about the organization. His personal mission is simple: “forgiveness.”

“As chaplain, my effort is simply to help the warrior find something that each of us needs, forgiveness,” he said.

“Forgiveness for him/herself, forgiveness from God, peace that has been eluding him, or her, help in finding his or her place in the world, especially if the active duty or service is over.”

Thanks to all of YOU for taking the time to SHARE this story. Our warriors may go through times of being broken . . . but are never broken beyond repair.

Kyle S. Reyes is co-host of The Whiskey Patriots and the Chief Executive Officer of The Silent Partner Marketing. Reyes is also an acclaimed keynote speaker on entrepreneurship, leadership, marketing and social media. You can follow him on Facebook.

(Photo courtesy DanSun Photo Art)