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By Meagan Friberg, Originally published in PASO Magazine, April 2017
 
Since 2011, the staff and volunteers with Mighty Oaks Warrior Programs have witnessed a steady increase of veterans and active duty military personnel making the commitment to attend intensive, peer-based programs in order to face the struggles of military life, combat deployments, and symptoms of post traumatic stress (PTS) head-on. A large majority of those programs take place right here in our community, at SkyRose Ranch in San Miguel.
 
“Many veterans don’t do anything about their challenges until something devastating happens,” said MOWP National Programs Director Branden Kanuth. “Unfortunately, some don’t end up in our program until they hit rock bottom. But the thing about rock bottom is that it’s a great place to go up from; rock bottom is a great foundation to build upon.”
 
The mission statement of MOWP is clear: to operate on a standing commitment to reach the brokenhearted, with a specific calling to assist our nation’s military Warriors and families find a new life purpose through a hope in Christ, after enduring hardship through their service to America.
 
In all, 1,328 people have graduated from one of several programs offered through Mighty Oaks, including Men’s Legacy, Women’s Legacy, and Marriage Advance. In 2016 there were 351 graduates; the goal for 2017 is 585, and in 2018 MOWP aims to double that number.
In 2017, 28 programs will be held in four locations – locally at SkyRose Ranch; Blaylock Ranch in Texas; the Bull Run Warrior Retreat Center in Virginia, and at The Wilds in Ohio. The schedule includes 20 Men’s Legacy programs, two Women’s Legacy programs, two Marriage Advance programs, along with one for leadership, one for First Responders, and two in the California prison system.
On the MOWP website, a description of the Men’s Legacy program states that, “Legacy’s confidential, open environment and the camaraderie participants experience in recreation trigger growth and recovery within the men. By discovering the truth about discipline, brotherhood, legacy, courage, honor, faith and family, men develop authentic character and learn to live a life of leadership. We equip our Warriors to fight through life’s challenges and discover the very purpose for their lives moving forward.”
 
“It’s all about equipping them,” said Kunath. “Often, when the Warriors first arrive, they are hesitant to open up, but when we get to know one another, get outside, and start going through classes everything starts to unfold. All of the leaders with Mighty Oaks understand their reluctance – in all honesty, we’re still them, we just see things through a different lens. Like how they are falling down; we’ve fallen down as well but, since we stood up and met this challenge, we are just a couple of steps ahead of them. We show them that they can do it, they can move forward – this is an attainable goal.”