Shreveport natives helps military families through camping

By Brittany Pieper – email

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) –Three years ago Kimberly Burleson's father died, but 1 year ago he spoke to her in a dream.

"He was telling me you've got to do this camp. You've got to do it with the military over and over and over, and in the dream he said the words Camp Better America," said Burleson.

When she told her mother about the dream, she was shocked to find her father had recorded a similar idea during his life.

"She opens a notebook, and it's my dad's handwriting from 1979.  It said 'Camp Better America.' It was an outline of his idea of what he wanted the camp to be like. I decided this was more than a vision. More than a dream. I had to do this," she said.

Burleson didn't have any military ties, but she started researching the challenges families face.

"There are 80,000 soldiers effected with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and a result of that is the divorce rate. The divorce rate is at 80% right now," said Burleson.

She contacted several experts and counselors who were eager to help, and in May they held the first ever Camp Better America with 5 Army families.

"You're home but it doesn't feel like you're home. So it takes awhile to adapt and come back to reality," said one of the camp attendees.

The organization took the parents on a date night to help them reconnect without the kids around, provided free services, and spent hours around a camp fire talking through issues.

Camp Better America has 2 more camps planned. One is in October in Orlando, and another is scheduled for January in Hawaii.

Burleson now lives in Arlington, TX, but she grew up in Shreveport.  She would like to host a camp in the Ark-La-Tex for families from Barksdale, but it takes resources and donations because the camps are free to the families. The organization will have an information session on September 11th from 7-9 at Stonebridge Golf Club in Bossier.

For more information about Camp Better America click here.

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