Through Operation Heal Our Patriots, God is helping military members reconnect with their wives, find Christ, and even rekindle the love in their marriage. The Samaritan’s Purse ministry gives wounded veterans and their spouses the opportunity for spiritual refreshment, physical renewal, and marriage enrichment. Couples participate in Biblically-based seminars that help strengthen their relationships with God and others and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation with outdoor activities at our Alaskan wilderness lodge.Give To Support Operation Heal Our Patriots
Lives and Marriages Saved
When landing in Port Alsworth, Alaska, one wife described being welcomed by the local community and Samaritan’s Purse staff and volunteers as: “Incredible. All those people would come together just to greet you coming in.” Many of the injured/wounded servicemen never had received a “welcome home.”
Todd Plybon, an injured retired sergeant from the Army National Guard, was helped out of the plane and greeted by Samaritan’s Purse President Franklin Graham upon arriving in Port Alsworth.
Marine Sergeant Bartley Darraugh and his wife, Keirnan, are given a warm, patriotic welcome.
Stephanie and Ryan Myers enjoy kayaking together in the great Alaskan outdoors. Ryan, 25, was injured in 2011 while on patrol in Afghanistan, leaving him with a ruptured disc, bulging discs, and degenerative disc diseases. Doctors tell him he has a back of an 80-year-old man.
The couples kayak on Lake Clark.
Stephanie and Ryan said their time at Operation Heal Our Patriots was a last-ditch effort for their marriage. They were at their breaking point. By the end of the week the couple said they were more in love with each other, and had made a commitment to refocus their marriage on Christ. “We knew the love was there,” Stephanie said when describing how Ryan’s injuries have affected their marriage of five years. “We just didn’t know how to find it again. This experience has not just given us an opportunity to start over, but start our life with God together.”
Bear watching is one of the most exciting and unique activities at Operation Heal Our Patriots. The couples are taken to the ideal spots on a float plane.
Bartley Darraugh, who is in the process of being medically retired from the Marine Corps, suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury. He said he found enjoyment and peace during his stay in Alaska.
Bartley and Keirnan Darraugh enjoy discovering the natural beauty of Alaska together as a couple.
Ryan Myers catches a fish at the foot of Tanalian Falls with the help of a Samaritan’s Purse guide.
Couples hike along the path to Tanalian Falls.
Ryan Myers and Shawn Gonzalez jump into the chilly waters of Lake Clark.
Stephanie and Ryan Meyers attend marriage resiliency courses with other veterans and their spouses.
Alicia and Shawn Gonzalez also grew closer together during their time with Operation Heal Our Patriots. Shawn is a retired Army Specialist who suffers from TBI and PTSD, which causes severe depression and anxiety.
Emily Mather, Alicia Gonzalez, Shawn Gonzalez, and Michael Mather enjoy the beautiful Alaska scenery.
Michael Mather’s wife, Emily, said it was a wonderfully refreshing change to see him this happy. “To see the smile on his face catching that fish and sitting back there with his fishing pole, to see how happy he was, that makes me happy,” she said. “I don’t see that very often.”
Shawn and Alicia Gonzalez examine their fish.
At the end of the week, Emily and Michael Mather renewed their vows. They were married in Las Vegas eight years ago. Michael said now Emily was able to have the wedding she always wanted.
Ryan and Stephanie Myers were baptized in Lake Clark. “This is an opportunity for us to start our lives together in the Lord,” Ryan said. “We both fell away pretty hard. Coming here we were able to see how much we need Him.”
Bartley Darraugh was baptized after giving his life to Christ. “I have prayed faithfully for my husband for years,” Keirnan said. “A little miracle happened this week. I feel such a sense of relief to know without a doubt that he is going to be with me eternally.”