Over the course of 12 years, Theresia and Michael Ditto experienced the birth of two children and the trials of seven military deployments. Michael, an original member of the Marine Corps Special Operations Command, lived in a perpetual state of motion, either serving away from his family or physically present but focused on training for his next mission. Theresia remained at home caring for two children, whom she was raising largely alone. With every deployment and passing month, Theresia and the children got more settled as an unofficial family of three, and Michael grew farther apart from them.
When Michael returned home for good in 2012, the family was unprepared for the difficulty of knitting their lives back together. While thrilled to have her husband safely home, Theresia struggled to co-parent with him. Michael lacked a fundamental bond with the children, who didn’t respond to him as a father figure. Furthermore, Michael suffered from a traumatic brain injury and PTSD, which made him more volatile and emotionally detached.
Michael responded the way he was trained: by keeping focused on his next mission. He enrolled in a rigorous course of university study and, in his spare time, volunteered with the local fire department. “I was deliberately overextending myself to keep myself going,” he recalls. It quickly became clear that Michael’s frenetic pace was further eroding the Ditto family.
Michael and Theresia found the Boulder Crest Foundation just when their family needed it most. When they arrived on Boulder Crest Retreat’s rural Virginia grounds for their first visit, they immediately felt at peace and at home. The burdens of their hectic veteran’s lifestyle fell away, and the next day, sitting on a bench by a lake, Michael and Theresia began a journey of rediscovering themselves and each other. The Foundation continues to support Boulder Crest to provide this important opportunity for service members and their families.
The Ditto family has returned to Boulder Crest every year since that first weekend. Sometimes for a few days, and other times for a cherished week. Regardless of how long they stay, they always emerge rebalanced, refreshed and reconnected.