Retreat offers military veterans a place to heal, share stories

‘Coming Home Veterans Retreat’ takes place May 19 in Barrington

Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House

A retreat attended by many Crystal Lake veterans over the years, where military veterans and their families share their experiences, is scheduled for Sunday, May 19, at Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House in Barrington.

“The Coming Home Veterans Retreat” offers a reflection on the transitions to and from military life from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Bellarmine, located on 80 acres of peaceful woodlands and prairie grasses at 420 W. County Line Road.

“Veterans and their family members who are at least 18 years of age will have the opportunity to share their stories in a safe, spiritually helpful environment,” said Teresa Larson, spiritual program director for the retreat. “This retreat is offered at no charge for all interested individuals, regardless of their current faith practices.”

The retreat is endorsed by leadership of the William Chandler Peterson American Legion Post 171 in Crystal Lake. Several Legion members have experienced retreats at Bellarmine, Legion Senior Vice Cmdr. Bob Dorn said, adding that a recent attendee said he wished the program was available when he returned from Vietnam more than 50 years ago.

Dorn, who has attended three times, said those who attend “connect with others and learn how to better understand [themselves] during this inspirational day.”

The retreat, which also welcomes first responders, involves small groups and private discussions about what veterans experienced in the service and when returning home.

Moral injury, which is different than post-traumatic stress disorder, also is discussed by a man considered an expert in the field, retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. James Mukoyama, Dorn said.

The retreat “is just a way to get it out on the table and get steered in direction [for help] if it is bugging you,” Dorn said.

“Bellarmine’s Coming Home team understand that no two veterans and no two military families are the same,” Larson said. “Some have seen active combat, others haven’t. Some have experienced tremendous losses. Some come back healthy and strong. Some transition back to civilian life rather easily, while others face a variety of challenges.

“Yet serving in the military or having a loved one wear the uniform creates a common bond. St. Ignatius of Loyola’s spirituality is the foundation of this retreat experience. Ignatius became an expert at helping people find meaning and direction in their lives. He believed that God is hidden in the stories of our lives.

“Veterans and their families are invited to gather with other men and women to share experiences, to tell whatever part of your story you’re comfortable naming. Come look for God in the place you might least expect ... in the pages of your life.”

To register for the retreat, call 847-381-1261 or visit