Serve Our Willing Warriors to Build Retreat in Haymarket

    Serve Our Willing Warriors to Build Retreat in Haymarket


    By Katherine Gotthardt

    Injured service personnel and their families will soon have a place for respite in Western Prince William County when Serve Our Willing Warriors (SOWW) opens its Haymarket retreat center. The Bull Run Warrior Retreat will include an 11,000 square foot home situated on 37 acres in the historic Virginia countryside. “Our willing warriors and their families will be invited to spend week-long retreats with their families surrounded by an appreciative community that provides activities, special events and camaraderie in accordance with the desires of our honored guests,” SOWW says.

    The retreat property sits at the edge of the Bull Run Mountain Conservancy and Virginia’s Hunt Country. The vicinity is also well known to Civil War historians and tourists. Guests may choose to spend time in the natural setting of the countryside or make short trips into nearby towns for shopping, movies, concerts, a day at a waterpark or sightseeing in nearby historic towns.

    Construction has been planned in three stages:

    Stage 1: Renovate the existing 11,000 square-foot home and begin to host warriors and their families by Memorial Day 2015. 
    Stage 2:
    Build three additional homes on the property to host additional guests. 
    Stage 3:
    Add additional amenities to the 37-acre property, including gardens, walking trails, a pond and more.

    Visiting Chef Program

    The Visiting Chef Program has partnered with volunteer restaurant and personal chefs who will come to the Bull Run Warrior Retreat to create once-in-a-lifetime meals for retreat guests. The program will take a farm-to- table approach, providing meals with fresh vegetables and herbs right from a garden on the property.

    Volunteer Larry Zilliox created and leads the Visiting Chef Program (VCP). Just about anything having to do with the kitchen or VCP is his department. Zilliox says, “I am just one of many volunteers working to make the retreat a special place.”

    With the complete remodel of the retreat comes a brand new kitchen. SOWW will stock the kitchen with everything families need. Visitors will be able to order meats, fish and poultry from vendors supporting the VCP. If a chef supplies food, anything brought will be considered an in-kind donation to the nonprofit organization, for which SOWW can provide an acknowledgement letter.

    SOWW says, “In our mission to make the family’s stay special we created the Visiting Chef Program as a way to introduce the families to the restorative properties of fine food. We also believe it offers chefs a way to give back doing the thing they love and that they will quickly learn what many SOWW volunteers know, working with wounded warriors and their families is an extraordinarily rewarding experience.”

    Says Zilliox, “Most volunteers wear many hats – fundraising, cleanup, construction at the retreat, and getting the word out to the community. I am also the outside activities coordinator looking for special activities we can offer the wounded warriors and their families during their stay.

    Having the opportunity to interact with the brave young men and women who are on their journey to recovery is as rewarding for the volunteers as we hope it is for the soldiers.”

    Bull Run Warrior Retreat will hold an open house this Tuesday, Veterans Day.

    The retreat is located at 16013 Waterfall Road, Haymarket. For more information, visit To volunteer or arrange for a tour of the Bull Run Warrior Retreat, contact Larry Zilliox at or 703-399-4333.

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