VANCEBERG, Ky. — A nonprofit called Warrior Ridge is looking to better the lives of war veterans.

What You Need To Know

  • A nonprofit called Warrior Ridge helps veterans by offering them a free weekend retreat

  • Warrior Ridge covers all costs for war veterans, including transportation, food and lodging

  • Veterans are treated to “Reconnection Retreats” with their units on  weekends and are surrounded by nature

  • One big reason they host these gatherings is to help prevent veteran suicides

The president Warrior Ridge Landon Bentley, served in Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2005 to 2007. He was tired of feeling like veterans were being forgotten. 

As a result, he and other community members stepped in to create a getaway spot for war veterans.

“What we do here is we get these guys back together so they have the best support system that we could offer these veterans that really, seriously protect our freedom and the way of life we have,” Bentley said.

According to Bentley, the nonprofit uses 100% of its expenses on the veterans. The nonprofit pays for their gas, food, lodging and anything else they may need.

Bentley hosts veterans by inviting their entire unit for a weekend getaway in order to give the sense of community they once had. 

A mission like this is hard to find. As a result, its awareness has been spread rampantly throughout the nation, even getting a spot on the History Channel.

During their weekend visit, the troops are treated to good food, campfires, kayaking, fishing and an overall sense of nature.

“It’s unreal what the sun will do for you and what nature will do for you,” Bentley said. “And we’re in the middle of nowhere. I mean, it’s just a stress relief just being here.”

From scratch, Bentley has built the foundation of the whole retreat. He even made barracks for the soldiers as a way to get them to talk with one another.

Not only does this open up a soldier’s personality, it also seems to pull on their heartstrings.

“When they were leaving, man, they started hugging, tears started rolling, and they’re even coming back next year,” Bentley said. “That’s just how strong the bond is.”

One big reason Bentley hosts these gatherings is to help prevent veteran suicides. According to the 2022 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report, the unadjusted suicide rate for veterans was nearly 32 per 100,000 people in 2020 — about twice as high as the number for nonveterans.

“It’s what we need, man. I really, full-heartedly believe this saves their lives. I really do,” Bentley said.

The community has noted this supplying infrastructure, barracks, money, concrete, flagpoles, kayaks, drinks and food to help soldiers feel at home once again.

“You know people saying ‘Thank you for your service’ is just something people say, right? I said that for years, man,” Bentley said. “And after starting Warrior Ridge? I’m starting to realize there are people that actually care about veterans. And for me, it’s heartwarming.”