FRANKLIN, N.C. (WLOS – ABC) — The Special Liberty Project held a ribbon cutting ceremony Wednesday to celebrate the opening of a new national headquarters and retreat center in Franklin. The expansion gives Special Liberty Project its first location to offer its nature-centric healing programs to veterans and veterans’ families on the East Coast. The nonprofit offers the programs in California and Arizona.

Founder and president Jessica Merritt said the mountains of Western North Carolina were a perfect fit for her organization’s mission.

“We toured the region and quickly realized that Franklin and Western North Carolina in general felt like home,” Merritt said. “It has so much to offer. It is absolutely beautiful here. We really focus on nature-centric therapy programs, and Franklin and Western North Carolina has it all — the mountains, the rivers and the beautiful weather.”

The Special Liberty Project is currently the only nonprofit serving the entire veteran family. The project has programs to heal veterans suffering from PTSD, for Gold Star families suffering from the loss of loved ones in service, and for families that have a loved one who died by suicide after serving in the military. 

“WNC is centrally located to many military bases,” Merritt said. “There is a large veteran service base here, as well as many local Gold Star families, especially in the rural areas, that will be able to travel to us easily.”

Several news organizations covered the SLP ribbon cutting to celebrate its new Farm and Retreat Center in North Carolina. Asheville’s ABC affiliate WLOS reported the news. Click here to see the full news story, and click here to see the station’s gallery of photos.

Merritt said the property will also be home to a new retreat center with a healing farm.

“Participants can come for a three-day weekend, where they will be guided through three primary activities,” Merritt said. “There will be something physical in nature, something to support their emotional health, and they will always learn a new skill.”

Founded in 2016, Special Liberty Project’s programs and fellowship helps veterans and families cope with the daily struggles from the wounds of service in the military.

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