Valhalla is all about Soldiers and their well being. It will be a facility designed to accommodate individual Soldiers and to hold small unit gatherings. Because of the warrior emphasis on Valhalla, it is envisioned that primarily members of combat units in the Army – active duty, National Guard, Reserves and their retirees who have survived combat – would be principal users. Due to the warrior emphasis, presence of those suffering from PTSD, and other issues, Valhalla would further be designated for adults only. Procedures for selection will be established in time as the demand increases.
Initially it is thought that volunteers will constitute the initial resident population, but all must come with a recommendation from unit leaders supporting their application. A screening committee comprised of the Valhalla Board operating with recommendations from the Valhalla Governance advisory committee will make final decisions.
Why would it be necessary to enforce recommendations from leaders?
The Valhalla Project is being established to assist combat veterans of the post-9/11 wars, primarily Iraq and Afghanistan. In the founders’ opinion sufficient government and non-profit organizations already exist to service the needs of veterans of previous wars and conflicts, while more attention must be given to relatively recent combat veterans.
Because of anticipated demand for use of Valhalla facilities, it is imperative that ground rules for use be established from the outset and strictly enforced. A sad commentary on American society is that there exist a significant number of “pretenders” who seek to exploit the reputation of combat veterans to satisfy their own physical and mental needs. These individuals have no part in this project, therefore steps need to be taken in advance to screen and qualify legitimate Soldiers for use of the facility.
Accordingly, persons seeking to use the Valhalla facility must be recommended by a senior non-commissioned officer from their military unit and their application must be approved by a commanding officer or equivalent. Failure or inability to present such an application would be met by refusal to open the facility for their use.
People being people, sometimes the mix does not work. Personality incompatibility, refusal to participate or play by rules, aberrant personalities, or unacceptable behavior all constitute reasons to remove or prohibit continued participation in Valhalla activities. For that reason a formal and informal review process will be implemented for all visitors. These include both in- and out-briefings, counseling sessions, and, if appropriate peer evaluations, reviews, and comments.
It is fundamental that visitors and users to Valhalla are aware than participation in activities is a privilege -- not a right -- and that access may be granted or withdrawn according to set rules and procedures. There will not be an “open door at all hours to all comers” policy at Valhalla; it is simply not designed to fulfill that kind of function or mission. Other institutions or facilities are open for that kind of process.
While such policies may appear harsh or unduly restrictive, Valhalla is limited in size and capabilities. It is designed for Soldiers with adjustment difficulties, those who wish a brief retreat from stress, and as a way of promoting unit cohesion and mutual support. Soldiers with severe mental issues and challenges are better suited for formal treatment by mental health professionals and Veterans Administration or similar facilities.
In summary, Valhalla is designed to be a pleasant, refreshing, but “tough love” activity for those Soldiers with issues that a few days or weeks in a work-play environment can help correct.