Dusty was appointed Boulder Crest Retreat's Executive Director in July 2015, following considerable involvement as a mentor, teacher and guide in a number of our combat stress recovery (PATHH) retreats. Dusty is a retired US Army Airborne Ranger MP/S3/G3/Operations Specialist. He served as part of the 82nd Airborne’s Combat Parachute Assault in Panama during Operation Just Cause and with the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment for Desert Shield / Storm. Since retiring Dusty has dedicated his life, passion and abilities to bringing relief, healing and hope to our active duty, veteran and transitioning military personnel experiencing Post-Traumatic Stress common in service members. His personal journey of healing combined with his exceptional leadership and teaching abilities, credibility in the Military community, and pure passion for helping Veterans, coupled with Transcendental Meditation, an effective technique for reducing PTS symptoms, delivers a powerful message and results.
Dusty previously served as the National Director of Operation Warrior Wellness for the David Lynch Foundation. He concurrently served as the Executive Director of Transcendental Meditation (TM) for Veterans with the Maharishi Foundation USA and is a Certified Transcendental Meditation(c) Teacher. Dusty has developed and managed numerous TM/Veterans based projects teaching TM to hundreds of Veterans to date. Recent projects have included DDEAMC FT Gordon, GA at the Neurological Research Center (NRC)/Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Clinic, Nellis AFB, FT Benning, GA, Boulder Crest Retreat, VA, Annapolis Vets Center, and Project Jericho in Bronx, NY.
John Sims served 30 years in the U.S. Army as both an Infantry NCO and Field Artillery officer. His assignments included command and staff positions from squad to strategic levels. His operational deployments include Desert Shield/Storm, Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He was the senior operations officer in the National Military Command Center during the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the Pentagon.
Beyond his Field Artillery assignments, John served in numerous positions focused on communications and engagement, including Director of Communications, Regional Command South, Afghanistan, and Chief of the Information Operations, Multi-National Force — Iraq. His last military assignment was as Chief of Plans and Strategy, Office of the Chief of Army Public Affairs, Pentagon.
Upon retirement from the Army in 2013, John served as the Deputy Director for Career Transition at the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA). As an Alexandria citizen, John has been very active in veterans’ initiatives to include creation and Co-Chair of the Alexandria Veterans Advisory Group, a member of the George Washington Birthday Celebration Committee, and a leading proponent for capitalizing on the strengths of Veterans in our community.
John holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania; a Master of Arts in leadership and organizational development from The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.; and a certificate in nonprofit executive management from the Center for Public and Nonprofit Leadership at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. He is a graduate of the Canadian Forces War College in Toronto.
John joined Boulder Crest Retreat Virginia in July 2017. John and his wife, Theresa, have four children, all serving in or in support of our nation’s military.
For the past two years, Suzi has regularly traveled to BCR to provide Horse Inspired Growth and Healing (HIGH) and other therapeutic activities for our PATHH Programs. In January 2016, Suzi made the move from Malibu to Bluemont to be a full time BCR staff member and Lead PATHH Guide. Before coming to Virginia, Suzi was the Clinical Director of a residential, dual diagnosis treatment center and founder of BIG Heart Ranch and Farm, where veterans, families and clients participate in animal-assisted therapy and organic gardening. Suzi has also worked with several national VSO’s and other healing organizations for veterans and their families. Many years ago, Suzi started her own healing journey by participating in a wild horse gentling program, which she continues to provide as a post traumatic growth activity for veterans and organizations such as the EOD Warrior Foundation.
Before becoming a therapist, Suzi received a BA in Theater from Middlebury College and worked as a video and film producer/director. Later, her unique therapeutic work with trauma lead her to being featured on many TV talk shows, including Oprah, and having two books published by Putnam.
Paul Downs joined the Boulder Crest Retreat team in July 2016. Born in Dallas and raised in Virginia, Paul enlisted into the Marine Corps on December 3, 2003. He served in three different units over a ten-year career, and deployed twice with 2/2, Fox Company. After leaving Fox Co., Paul reported to Officer Candidates School permanent personnel in Tactics Platoon as a platform instructor. After three years in that role, he served at the Marine Corps Information Operations Center (MCIOC) as Psychological Operations, where he finished his career. Paul joins us from Whitney, Bradley & Brown, where he worked as the Manager, Military Information Support Operations Program of Instruction. Paul is a graduate of Boulder Crest Retreat's Warrior PATHH program, and is currently studying for his B.S. in psychology.
Mike King joined Boulder Crest Retreat Virginia in November 2017. Born and raised in Massachusetts, Mike enlisted in the Army Reserve in 2001, and deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003-2004, and as a contractor in 2008. He has served in the Reserves for the past 17 years, leveraging his expertise in engineering as an instructor. Prior to joining Boulder Crest Retreat Virginia, Mike was a land surveyor. Mike is also a Warrior PATHH Graduate, active with the local Team Red, White & Blue chapter, and a graduate of the ASAP Comedy Boot Camp program. He is married and the proud father of one.
Jamie Mizerak has worked with BCR since the summer of 2014, caring for our two horses, Clayton and Gabriel. Jamie has now taken on a full-time role, helping to design and implement a five-star recreational schedule for our R&R guests. From 2012-2016, Jamie worked as the Social Media Coordinator for the EOD Warrior Foundation. Jamie has always had a heart for the men and women of the armed forces who dedicate their lives to serving and protecting our country. From a personal perspective, Jamie loves everything the active, country life has to offer; riding horses, hiking and shooting. Jamie was born and raised in western Loudoun County, Virginia. With a heart to serve those in need, she has gone on several mission trips with various local groups, traveling to the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica and Zambia, Africa. Jamie is a true patriot and we are thrilled to have her as part of our team here at Boulder Crest.
carrie combs, OPERATIONS MANAGER
Carrie is a native of Virginia, born and raised in Loudoun County. She graduated from Loudoun Valley High School in 1997 and attended her freshman year of college at High Point University. She transferred to Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA and graduated in 2002 with a Bachelor of Science in Human Services Counseling. She has two children, Dante, 14, and Ryder, 9. They currently live in Winchester, VA with their family dog, Batman!
Carrie has a strong background working in non-profit and counseling. Her experience has ranged from working in homeless shelters to domestic and sexual violence women's center to helping children with Axis 1 diagnoses in the school system. Carrie has always been passionate about making a difference in people's lives and helping them improve their lives in any capacity possible! She is excited for this new opportunity to interact, engage, and positively impact the veterans and the families that visit BCR.
René joined the Boulder Crest Retreat team as head chef and horticultural specialist in January 2017. As a self-taught, award winning culinary artist, René aims to prepare 5-star nutritious, seasonal meals for veterans staying at the retreat. Overseeing the Wallis Annenberg Heroes Garden, René manages the organic garden just steps away from the kitchen. René helps immerse participants in a farm-to-table experience with practical take-home knowledge and skills. She believes that growing and preparing food in a good way is part of the healing exchange and vital to reducing suffering for our military veteran families – one ingredient at a time.
Before arriving to BCR, René earned a Bachelor’s degrees in both Math & Art and Master’s degree in Diplomacy. She has worked with people of influence fostering critical interagency partnerships with the Pentagon, White House, State Department, Secretary of Defense, news media, embassies, etc. Her highest valued product managed was a $250 million dollar contract solicitation. She herself is a veteran; a U.S. Air Force retired Lt. Col. with 22 years active-duty military service and humble Native American Lumbee Indian Warrior.
She currently volunteers in various community positions to support culture, arts and education and received President Obama’s Call to Service Award for volunteerism. When not at BCR, she and her husband lead their own Native American Indian non-profit helping leaders, bringing recognition to contributions of indigenous people to reduce suffering. She is a proud daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother and resident of Bluemont.
PATRICK FRYE, PROPERTY MANAGER
Patrick is a Loudoun County local, born and raised in Leesburg, VA. After graduating from Loudoun County High School, he began working on farms and developing his passion for the local food movement. Patrick later interned at Virginia State University’s Randolph Farm, a 416-acre agricultural learning and research center, where he began to cultivate his expertise in gardening and farming. As a self-starter, Patrick founded and began operating a small organic farm along with his wife, Kelsey, upon his return to Leesburg. Together they served as vendors at the Brambleton Farmer’s Market in the Loudoun Valley Homegrown Markets Cooperative. Recently their farm received a USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services High Tunnel System Initiative Grant, contributing to the preservation of farmland through Loudoun County. Additionally, Patrick has become a devoted beekeeper and volunteers his time with other beekeepers in the Loudoun Beekeeping Association.
Patrick was a private property caretaker in Bluemont when he began working with the Boulder Crest team in the Wallace Annenberg Heroes Garden in the Fall of 2015. He officially joined the BCR staff in August 2017 as the Property Manager. With a passion for giving back and serving others, Patrick is dedicated to maintaining a beautiful and healing atmosphere for BCR’s program participants and visitors.