A Retreat for Veterans


Veteran’s Day is always celebrated on November 11–to remember the last day of the “Great War,” and those who fought in it, and wars before and since. Like Independence Day, it is not and should not be one of our holidays that we insist on turning into a three day weekend… even though this year it is!

For Veteran’s Day, yesterday all of the eight graders at my son’s school were invited to make a star that commemorates a veteran. My son did his grandfather, Ralph Jay Sheridan, and in the process learned that he lied about his age to sign up at 17, that he worked as a chef (and sometimes a bartender and DJ!), and served for 20 years.

He also learned that his grandfather was stationed at Pearl Harbor when it was bombed. The night before the bombing Ralph told me he went to the movies with friends but I don’t remember what he said they watched. I do remember that From Here to Eternity (1953) was his favorite film. He hadn’t seen it since it came out and he watched it in the the theater. It was Christmas night when he was telling me all this, and when I asked him if he wanted to watch it on my laptop, it was as if I’d told him Santa was coming over to play poker with him and drink scotch in the Irish clover highball glasses. we both got teary eyed as we watched it. He passed at 91 in 2012, and this is one of my favorite memories with him.


When I was growing up, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, my mom worked with Viet Nam war vets and other addicts in the Port Hueneme area near Point Mugu Base. Because of the Port and the Base, drugs were very easy to find. For many years, I wanted to write about the war and the vets I knew, and the sorrow I felt, and one day at a stop light this poem came to me, and I wrote it down. Yes, I am the speaker in the poem. That experience led to this poem and the broadside that was published in ArtLife Limited Editions. I remember reading it to my college literature students who were incarcerated. It brought tears to many eyes as they recognized family members and friends lost to the addictions and to the trauma of war.

As a college teacher of writing for many years, I have had many students who are impacted by war and who are veterans. They have ranged from the young father with such severe PTSD that he was on full disability and could barely manage coming and being in class. For his research project, a problem solution action paper, he spent time in his daughter’s classroom. At first, he said he was so broken that there wasn’t anything he could imagine being able to do. But then when he spent time with the kindergarten children, helping them, being with them, and his daughter’s pride and appreciation of him, he could see that what he was doing was important and mattered. That he had something still to give. That he could still serve.

I had a student another year who couldn’t sit through class because of the shrapnel near his tailbone; he had to drop because he had to have surgery. Another student wrote in an essay literature helped her get through her days. Another student brought a cake to celebrate the Marine’s birthday, and he helped us understand what it meant to him to be a Marine. Another student did his research project on how he could help his brother and best friend with their PTSD. This semester, I have students married to service men as well as the children of Veterans and a young man who just got out of four years of service; he is doing his research paper on how he can help homeless vets.

Each of us need to to what we can to be there for our Veterans who have experienced both the honor and the horror of service to their country.

As a wine writer, when I was approached by Tackett Family Vineyards about their wine that supports the Boulder Crest Retreat, I knew I wanted to help get out the word, to tell their story. Yesterday in class we talked about he challenges that face veterans, the difficulty to “retreat.” While their bodies may be back here in the US, their minds may still be at war: they need to learn how to retreat both physically and mentally.

Established in 2013, Boulder Crest Retreat wines support their mission to help heal heroes “one family at a time.” Located “amidst the natural beauty and tranquility of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Boulder Crest Retreat for Military and Veteran Wellness is a rural sanctary for our nation’s wounded warriors to recover and reconnect with their families. Information on this retreat can be found at info@bouldercrestretreat.org”

If you have a veteran in your family, this would be a great wine to bring to an event to honor and support the veterans in our family. Even better, this is an excellent wine for $25.


2014 – Boulder Crest Retreat – Cabernet Sauvignon – Paso Robles, Ca – $25 – alcohol 14.1%

We liked the idea of retreat, the play on words. On the label, the antlers can be an aggressive things, but they face each other, giving the idea of retreat, the war is over and now we are here, it is time to retreat, The bottle has a lovely label with nice texture and a great message.

The nose of this wine is not subtle. There is a complexity of first and foremost oak, with cherry fruit and a vegetal earthy undertone. This has that Paso Cab feel to it. The structure holds up after being opened for a while. It is difficult to define place (meaning mineralogy, terroir, etc) with this wine. The oak is too prominent, but the structure does not fade after being decanted for a while. This wine has enough structure to let it rest in the bottle for a few years. The oak may mellow and marry into the vegetal forefront of this wine. Let it rest till 2020 or 2022 and see what wonders this wine might bring forth. At $25 a bottle you could buy a case to support the cause and drink a bottle annually to see how it is aging.

This is a great dinner wine or with spicy pepperoni as well. It kind of bowls over quieter cheeses such as brie, but loves bold sharp or smokey cheeses. It was awesome with a grilled lamb burger with blue cheese as well as a filet mignon and with the final glass I tried it with meatloaf and bacon: yum! You can taste and feel the alcohol in this wine with a little bit of candy cinnamon.

This is a wine that will go great with BBQ smoked meats, ham, smoked turkey, prime rib at Christmas or Thanksgiving. This would go great with ribs if they were done in a dry rub as opposed to a BBQ sauce.

We liked this wine a lot as well as the message and we would encourage others to seek it out to support the Boulder Crest Retreat for Military and Veterans Wellness sanctuary.

There are lots of events and promotions going on today and this weekend to honor Veterans. For example “Rock & Brews, the rock-inspired, family-friendly restaurant co-founded by KISS front men Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons, is paying tribute to veterans, active military and first responders on Veterans Day, November 11, by offering a complimentary pulled pork sandwich at participating restaurants with proof of service. Locations include  El Segundo, Redondo Beach, Corona, Buena Park and Rancho Cucamonga in southern California.

In addition to Veterans Day, Rock & Brews locations nationwide partner with local military and veteran organizations to support veterans and military personnel in their communities throughout the year for their grand opening fundraisers and other events. To date, the Rock & Brews brand has donated over $140,000 to local organizations directly benefiting veterans and military. For more information about Rock & Brews and the Veterans Day offer at participating restaurants, please visit http://www.rockandbrews.com.



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