I spent the last three days learning how to ease some of the pains of our battle hardened veterans returning from over ten years of war fighting. The joining of two parts of my life, Yoga and my military background is something I never would have thought possible. The excitement I feel about the idea of being able to help my brothers in arms is overwhelming. PTSD has been around much longer then we had a name for it. Looking back at my childhood I can recognize the effects of PTSD in my grandfather.
When I was a kid I remember my uncle telling me that he was on the beaches during the Normandy invasion of WWII. When I was in the Marine Corp I often thought how strange it was for my grandpa to be on the beach during “D” day because he was in the Navy, not the army or Marine corp. I later found out that my grandfather was amongst the first Navy SEALs or “frogmen” as they were called back then. Gramps had been camped out on “Utah” beach three days prior to “D” day setting up the landing. He was a hardcore “operator.” He never spoke about his service until I came off of deployment after the Gulf War. He opened up to me for the first time, telling me how horrible the invasion was and all the lives he saw wasted and how nothing went as planned.
I felt, and heard his pain and it struck me hard. I now understand his detachment from us, his lifelong struggle with alcoholism and his choice to move out to the middle of the desert after he retired. I lost a strong relationship with my grandfather because there was no effective treatment for PTSD back then. The good news is that “the yoga works!” There is help!
My teacher Dr. Daniel Libby says “all we want to do is, help them breath, help them become mindful through meditation, help them move and help them sleep.” Things that the trauma of war and the effects PTSD prevent them from doing. Simple things that we all do automatically have been stolen from our veterans by the messy experience of war. The VA is doing remarkable work but getting the vets into treatment is the key to getting them back on track to a healthy, happy life. I’m hoping I can help. I am so grateful to be able to be of service and will continue my training with the Veterans Yoga Project and help out at any opportunity that arises. Semper Fi!