SEAL widow creates veteran retreat in Pungo

Posted at 2:00 PM, Nov 27, 2014
and last updated 2014-11-30 15:05:42-05

Virginia Beach, Va. - The widow of a Navy SEAL is on a mission to help special operations forces who are returning home from war. She's creating a place to help heal hearts, minds and spirits.

What Lynn Bukowski is building on 38 acres of land in the Pungo section of Virginia Beach, is a peaceful haven, a place of healing.

Lynn moved to this farm because of her husband Steve's dream. “After 32 years of doing something that could have killed him any day, he died of a massive heart attack after a bicycle ride,” she said. That was four years ago.  But Lynn couldn't shake Steve's vision to build a retreat for all special operations forces.

“Special operations are unique in that they will only talk to one another and they need to be able to talk to heal,” she said.  “I think what we wanted to do was build a home away from home for people.”

Last year, Lynn began looking for the land to build that home away from home. She bought this farm five months ago, moved into the house, and thanks to a team of dedicated volunteers, LZ-Grace Warriors retreat is unfolding before her eyes.

LZ stands for landing zone, and warriors and their families can come here for free. They will stay in mini cottages on the property and they will be able to participate in activities like kayaking, horseback riding, fishing, yoga, art and much more. The only two mandatory activities are eating meals together at the dinner table and gathering around the fire pit. “Those are the places that facilitate talking and even if they don`t feel like talking, they`re still present and listening,” she said.

Lynn is getting a lot of support from volunteers including her 89-year-old mother Sherry Van Campen and her sister, Diane Van Campen. There's still a lot of work to be done and money to raise before LZ-Grace can open its doors. “I`m supposed to do this. I have to do it without his physical presence, but I know spiritually, he`s with me all the time,” Lynn said.

There groundbreaking ceremony was November 16. Lynn plans to officially open LZ Grace by spring 2015.

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Click here to visit the LZ Grace website