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Photo gallery: New wounded warrior retreat opens in Northern Virginia

Sep. 5, 2013 - 02:58PM   |  

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Injured troops, veterans and their families in the mid-Atlantic region now have a new place they can escape to for rest and relaxation.

Boulder Crest Retreat, a 37-acre getaway in Northern Virginia’s horse country, opens its doors Friday, providing combat-wounded service members and families a place to rejuvenate and regroup for up to two weeks.

The $5 million facility features four luxury log cabins, a central lodge and recreational activities such as archery, fishing, hiking and bird-watching.

The intention, according to Boulder Crest founder and retired Navy master chief Ken Falke, is to give these military families a rare commodity — uninterrupted family time away from a hospital or rehabilitation center.

“Many troops and their families are from rural areas, and from visiting injured service members at [Walter Reed National Military Medical Center] Bethesda, we learned the one thing they miss is nature, its beauty and the quiet,” Falke said.

Several years ago, Falke, a former explosive ordnance disposal technician, and his wife, Julia, began hosting wounded EOD service members at the guest house of their 200-acre Bluemont, Va., farm.

Wanting to do more, they considered remodeling the place to accommodate more families as well as those with disabilities.

Instead, they decided to donate some of their back-40 hayfields and raise the money for a dream retreat, one featuring four fully equipped and Americans with Disability Act compliant “cabins” (each a $500,000 home with vaulted ceilings, stone fireplaces, flat screen televisions and fully equipped kitchen), a central meeting house for gatherings and therapy, and on-site amenities such as a children’s playground and fishing pond.

The Falkes, along with a bevy of financial backers, volunteers and donors, broke ground in May 2012. On Friday, all will be on hand for the grand opening, featuring keynote speaker Adm. James Winnefeld, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, a parachute demonstration and celebratory barbeque.

“We’re so excited. It’s going to be a great day,” Falke said.

Several families have reserved cabins for opening weekend and more are expected throughout the fall.

When they arrive, they are sure to enjoy all the on-site activities and programs, Falke said, but they also will have access to off-site recreation including golf, hiking on the Appalachian Trail, winery tours, horseback riding, kayaking, fly-fishing and more.

Few could blame them, though, if they just end up sitting on the expansive decks of their vacation homes, enjoying 20-mile views of the Blue Ridge foothills and historic horse farms.

“We wanted people just to be able to come here and enjoy the beauty of somewhere they may not be able to afford on their own,” Falke said.

Glancing around at a cabin during a recent interview and out over his former fields, he added, “We think we’ve done that.”

Boulder Crest will host a public open house after its formal ceremony on Friday. Anyone driving through or perambulating in western Loudoun County, Va., between 1 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Sept. 6 is invited to stop by 33735 Snickersville Turnpike, Bluemont, Va.

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