WARRIOR RETREATS ARE CHANGING LIVES
what TWC retreat grads want you to know
Bill Hattendorf, Army Veteran 71-72
A number of months before Ruck-Up's A.J. Paige was able to get me to consider this retreat in the woods of Vermont. It's probably fair to say that I was afraid, not knowing what would be expected of me, not knowing what I might find there. I'd spent 40 years quite sure that Vietnam had had no effect on me. (The two birthdays I'd spent there didn't count since that was all lost time.) Did I really want to explore that piece of my past?
The Army's Basic and Advanced Infantry Training, with in-country Ranger School and OJT, had prepared me with the warrior skills and sharpened instincts I needed to serve in Vietnam for fourteen months. But there was no preparation for returning to a different world at the height of the anti-war rallies. William Calley was just being sentenced as a war criminal for his role in the My Lai Massacre three years earlier. All people wanted to ask me in return was how many women and children I had killed.
But The Warrior's Journey was a game-changer for me. I was a visibly different person after those six days. I walked with a different posture, and there was a new peace about me. I'd gone into the depths of my
soul, a primal scream zone, heaving and sobbing, and grieving finally for losses that happened four decades ago. But in the process, I found a piece my old self that I thought I'd lost forever. And it was very good. I'm not sure who was the most grateful -- me or my long-suffering wife. (Finally understanding that there was not so much "something wrong with me but something that happened to me" was helpful for both of us.)
My family recognizes the profound change I've gone through. I've been a facilitator for several other programs over the years, generally oriented toward personal leadership and fulfillment or understanding our place in the world. When I first went through the Warrior's Journey, I learned early on that I needed to work from my heart rather than my head, but it was probably a bit natural that I found myself thinking about the great job that Anne Black and Joe Doyle were doing facilitating the program. Joe had been on this retreat before, yet he seemed to be participating fully as a veteran and was a great role model for us newbies (FNGs).
This program went much deeper than anything I'd seen before. Before the week was out, Anne and Joe inquired if I might be interested in getting further involved with TWC, and the prospect both excited and scared me. I went through the mentor and facilitator training and was surprised how much I still worked on my own issues while being the mentor or facilitator. I thought when I was a facilitator for others I might be a bit more detached; not so, however. Each retreat takes me a little more in depth on my journey, gets me a bit more in touch with the real me down deep inside. Working with new clinical facilitator Judy Davidson has been terrific on our recent outings. She has an excellent sense of the program that Anne has created and shepherded, and I think we make a good team. I'm so grateful to TWC for letting me play a part in and for helping me share with other veterans this remarkable gift. I'm grateful for the other participants who come and open their lives to us and are willing to give the program the chance to change them.
I’m grateful for the intensity of the work and the way it grabs you and the transformations that take place. I’m grateful to Anne and Joe for having the confidence and trust in me to bring me along as we continue and expand this journey for others.
Bill Hattendorf, Army, Vietnam 1970-71