Essential Information & What to Expect from Operation Tohidu®


What to Expect at Operation Tohidu® 

Melwood's Veterans Services Operation Tohidu® is an experiential retreat program delivered in the quiet seclusion of nature, with an intensive focus on challenge, adventure, group activities, introspection and growth.  During the retreat veterans, service members, national guard and reserves connect with nature and their fellow warriors to learn effective techniques in mitigating post-traumatic stress, mild traumatic brain injury and other service-related traumas.  Melwood Veterans Services' adventure-based programming and positive psychology approach combine to encourage participants to overcome obstacles to their recovery and capitalize upon the Operation Tohidu® mission:  

“Peace with the Past, through Power in the Present”.

“Tohidu” is a Cherokee word meaning peace of mind, body, and spirit. The program focuses on outdoor activities, teamwork, confidence-building, group discussion and introspection in a relaxed and positive environment.  Activities and programming are designed to facilitate post-traumatic growth and to drive or initiate progress on a participant's post-trauma journey. Melwood Veterans Services staff of professionals, certified recreational specialists and veteran retreat-leaders team to focus the mind on positive psychology and an adventurous approach.  Operation Tohidu® encourages participants to change their mindset, adapt their approach to trauma and promotes an increased sense of wellbeing and purpose. 

What Happens After I Register? 

Once your application is completed and submitted, Melwood Veterans Services will reach out to you, typically within 48 hours of registration. The purpose of this contact will be to learn more about your personal situation, determine which retreat might be the best fit for you, explore scheduling options and to set up follow up calls.  Since participation in Operation Tohidu® is voluntary and handled with the utmost discretion, we wish to ensure that your time with us is as productive and useful as possible in helping you achieve your personal goals.  To this end a separate, individual call is arranged with a member of our Staff to determine your exact needs, situation and joint goals for our engagement.

Essential Information

Thank you for registering for an Operation Tohidu® retreat. Everyone at Operation Tohidu® is looking forward to meeting you.  The following information will provide you with some helpful details about your arrival and stay, including where you can find us, what to bring, and directions. 

Getting Here 

9035 Ironsides Road, Nanjemoy, MD 20662 

Phone: 301-769-8081  

Notifications

All participants will receive a comprehensive Welcome Letter and packing list prior to the session.  Once confirmed as accepted onto Operation Tohidu®, please check your email (especially your junk folders) in the week leading up to the retreat.

If Arriving by Car

If you are traveling in your personal vehicle, please plan to arrive at the Melwood Retreat and Recreation Center between the hours of 3:00pm and 4:30pm. This will give you plenty of time to get settled before the session begins.   

If Arriving by Air

Your booked and paid itinerary will arrive directly from Melwood Veterans Services via e-mail, typically at least one week in advance of your departure. Please check it over carefully and ensure that you arrive at the airport at least an hour prior to your flight (2 hours for Hawaii due to the Department of Agriculture requirements, and 2 hours early for any other OCONUS departure).You will receive further communications (usually by mobile text message) on your day of travel, with the contact information of the party who will be meeting you at the airport. 

Upon Arrival

Upon arrival you will be greeted by the MVS Team and we will help you transport your luggage to your assigned room. You will be asked to park your vehicle at the main lot for the duration of your stay and we will ask you to leave your keys, which will be secured at that location. Should you need access to your vehicle over the course of the week, an Operation Tohidu® Mentor will be glad to assist you. 

Please understand that it is Melwood policy that our participants are responsible for their conduct while traveling to and from the retreat center.  

On behalf of everyone at Operation Tohidu®, we wish you safe travels. We all look forward to your arrival. 

What to Bring to Operation Tohidu®

Below is a list of items we provide, a suggested packing list, and prohibited items to help you prepare for your experience. Further details will be provided in the emailed Welcome Letter.

All participants will be issued the following items: 

  • Several t-shirts, one polo shirt, and one fleece pullover.  These are to be worn during Operation Tohidu® to promote group cohesion.
  • Reference books and resource materials.
  • Bed linens, towels, and washcloths to be used during your stay. 

Participants should bring the following items: 

  • PT gear (for indoor and outdoor) including athletic shoes. 
  • Khaki slacks or 5-pocket blue jeans (khaki/jean shorts in summer, no cut offs, please).
  • Belt (to hold up the pants listed above, undergarments should not be displayed above the waistline). 
  • Casual civilian attire (for free time only). 
  • Rain gear and outerwear (be ready - we will be outdoors all seasons). 
  • Rugged shoes that can get dirty (consider your deployment boots or similar).
  • Personal hygiene items (shampoo, soap, etc.) 
  • Thermal undershirts to be worn under other clothing (winter only). 
  • Shower shoes. 
  • Sunscreen and insect repellent (warmer months). 
  • Flashlight. 
  • Service animals can be accommodated unless otherwise specified.

Please consider bringing

  • Cards, dominoes, or similar games 
  • Guitar 
  • Camera - for scenic photography only 

Please resist bringing

  • Electronics - such as computers, mobile games, etc. 
  • Tobacco products 

Please do not bring

  • Weapons of any kind 
  • Alcohol or drugs 
  • Pornography 

Note: There should be no need for money as all food, refreshments and snacks are provided during the program. If you do not have an item or cannot afford to obtain it, let us know - we will gladly assist you!  

All illicit drugs are banned; prescription drugs may be kept in your custody if they are prescribed to you and contain accurate prescription information 

Lodging at Operation Tohidu® 

Lodging is by assignment in cabins at the Melwood Retreat and Recreation Center. These heated and air-conditioned lodges include individual and shared rooms, typically with top and bottom bunk beds. A few single beds are available. Some cabins have private bathrooms while others have community bathrooms with private shower and toilet stalls. Room assignments are made on an as needed basis by Staff and Mentors. 

Questions or Concerns? 

For any questions, concerns or should you need anything prior to arrival day, please contact Travis Rahill at trahill@melwood.org or 301-599-4550.