Many call it their “alive day”- the day they came within inches of death, yet miraculously survived. For Sgt. Curt Thomas*, it was May 20, 2012, the day an improvised explosive device (IED) was detonated with the intention of taking his life.

Inexplicably and thankfully, Curt survived, yet the blast still claimed more than he or his family could imagine. The trauma terrorized him, whether asleep or awake. It permanently damaged his spine, leaving him unable to move as he once had. Headaches, memory loss, anxiety, and irritability added to the cruel list of parting gifts that Curt would be left to carry. The days and months that followed his alive day were filled with hospitals, doctors, and the realization that, for the Thomas family, the mission had only just begun.

Although Curt was home and physically safe, devastation from the IED continued—not only affecting Curt, but haunting his wife and their young daughter as well. They lost more each day—more of their freedom, more of their laughter, and most importantly, more of their hope.

The Thomas family is just one among thousands of military families living collectively with the aftereffects of combat trauma. Like the Thomas’, so many are simply trying to navigate new lives after the chaos. They’re searching for answers and for understanding, but most of all, they’re searching for hope.

Fortunately, Project Sanctuary specializes in hope, taking military families from battle ready to family ready. We help military families THRIVE through a two-year, evidenced-based program built on compassionate advocacy, providing resiliency and reintegration tools, and reestablishing HOPE. At Project Sanctuary, Curt and his family found the support they so desperately needed. Connecting with other families, peer mentors, and our team of specially-trained experts, they regained their strength to take on their new mission as a family.

Curt’s wife shared, “As a family, we have not laughed and smiled as much as we did in that short week up in those beautiful mountains. This retreat gave us our focus back—focus to conquer the next set of struggles to arise, and focus to remember the little things that make us smile.”

With your support on #GivingTuesday, we can ensure HOPE gets to those who need it the most – our service members and their families, and we can continue saving and forever changing the lives of our service members and those who love them—just like the Thomas family.

For more information about Project Sanctuary, visit ProjectSanctuary.us. *Names have been changed to protect the identity of this family.