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Just twelve days until the halls of House in the Woods will once again be filled with the sound of veterans filling the halls and rooms. This is the sound that Paul and Dee House yearn for all year round. The talking, sharing, and yes even the snoring, mean that military brothers and sisters are gathered under one roof for one mission – healing.

Ok yes, they also would love the opportunity to harvest a bear, but first things first, let's connect, share stories and maybe make a new friend or two.

I was chatting with my friend Rich Cutcliffe yesterday and he said something that struck me as so simple, yet so profound, that I wanted to share with all of you. 

Have you ever had a moment when a friend is sharing something rather deep that perhaps they are struggling with, or you can tell they may not have shared that with someone before? You can feel it in the air, see it on their face and perhaps in their demeanor, they are walking the journey of healing. Do you recall a moment where there’s suddenly a silence, a silence so thick you panicked? 

Immediately our brains think HURRY, SAY SOMETHING, this is AWKWARD!

I want to talk about it because as with many veterans battling PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress

Disorder), TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury), or Depression, among a myriad of other invisible

wounds, you may notice this happen and perhaps this can help you through a difficult

conversation which will lead to greater connection in the future. 

The next time you experience that moment, sit in it. Sit WITH your friend in that silence and just be with them. You are not required to have all of the answers. Sometimes being quiet is more valuable to another person than just filling the air with a lot of, “I know it will work out.” Or “Just be positive.” 

Sit in silence, and just BE. Being with your friend during times of reflection is likely more

meaningful than diving deep into a discussion. Believe it or not, this takes your friendship to a new level. Being able to be silent with someone means a lot. The sheer fact that you can LISTEN and not talk or give your opinion or judgment means they’ll likely confide in you again in the future. 

Embracing the silence. Not only does sitting quietly in reflection lower your heart rate, but it can also help reduce your blood pressure and gives your brain the time it needs to process the emotions you’re feeling rather than suppressing them.

When someone is processing grief, struggling with trauma, or depression the best thing we can do for them is practice loving kindness and use deep listening. You can do this by being present, and focusing on the here and now. Listen deeply, not just to hear but to understand. Listen with your heart, not just your ears, and try to feel what they are feeling. 

Resist the urge to express your pain at this time. Being with someone who is struggling often

makes us want to express the pain or grief that we have gone through in hopes that they will know “they’re not alone”. It’s understandable but resist the urge. Hold their hand – metaphorically or otherwise depending on the situation. Walk with them through it, don’t take it over. 

Finally, don’t try to fix them, or their situation. We all have a journey and it’s not your

responsibility to take away their struggles. As their friend, it can be part of your journey to help them walk theirs. 

Thank you for your support of our military heroes. If you would like to donate to one of our

disabled veteran bear attendees at the upcoming retreat, please do so at

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