After suffering in ‘own private hell’ vet gets relief from unlikely source

Nara SchoenbergContact Reporter
Chicago Tribune

 

Standing shoulder to shoulder with six of his fellow veterans, Fred Moffatt was honoring the dead at a military funeral, just as he’d done a hundred times before.

But that day last spring at the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood, something was different. The air was hot and wet: jungle air. The rain hitting Moffatt’s raincoat made exactly the sound the rain used to make when it fell on his metal combat helmet in Vietnam. Ordinary leaves took on vivid tropical hues, and distant trees lined up in the neat rows of Southeast Asian rubber plantations.

 

Featured Video: http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/95012795-132.html

 

Moffatt’s face turned ghost-white, and his body shook as time and space contracted, catapulting him back to 1967. It was all he could do not to shout out a warning when the wind sent a ripple through a bank of tall grasses: “Movement to the front!”

 

That kind of acute flashback could once have hounded Moffatt for hours, but the 71-year-old former Army medic from Joliet is one of a growing number of combat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) who are getting relief from an unlikely source: a yoga-based breathing and meditation workshop offered by Project Welcome Home Troops, an initiative at the nonprofit International Association for Human Values.

 

Almost 2,000 people, most of them veterans and active-duty service members suffering from the flashbacks, nightmares and anxiety of PTSD, have taken the workshop, according to Project Welcome Home Troops national director Leslye Moore.

 

Buoyed by a favorable 2014 pilot study at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and a positive portrayal in the 2016 documentary “Almost Sunrise,” which can be seen Nov. 13 on PBS, Project Welcome Home Troops expects to enroll 1,000 people in workshops in 2018, up from 277 in 2016.

 

“Five years ago, people rolled their eyes at us,” said Moore.

 

“Now I have VA hospitals chasing me down, saying we need your program. I’m going to Manhattan to meet with the Manhattan VA, among other things. We’re showing ‘Almost Sunrise’ at Lincoln Center.”

 

For Moffatt, who took the workshop twice and attends monthly follow-up meetings, the breathing techniques have been very effective.

 

Counseling, which he started before the workshop, had already helped him, he said. But before learning the Project Welcome Home Troops breathing techniques, he couldn’t walk through the woods before dawn to prepare for deer hunting. The memories of the darkened underbrush in Vietnam, with its constant threat of ambush, were just too strong.

 

After taking the workshop for the first time two years ago, he still struggled with feelings of panic, but he was able to make it to the hunting site.

 

He could drive by visual reminders of Vietnam (a particular paving material on the road, a stretch of cleared brush) without having to pull off the road and collect himself. And that day at the cemetery when he had a flashback, he was able to complete his duties at the funeral, retreat to a quiet place for 20 minutes of breathing exercises and then continue calmly with his day.

“It amazed me,” said Moffatt, a retired mechanic with a steady blue-eyed gaze, wire-framed aviator glasses and a neatly trimmed gray mustache.

 

“I hadn’t had that bad a flashback for years, and instead of it lasting for hours, it only lasted for 30 minutes at most, and then everything was cool.” He clapped his hands to indicate the speed of the change: “I was back up, doing ceremonies. I went back to see (if the flashback would start again), and everything was fine.”

 

Also a graduate of the Project Welcome Home Troops workshop, Vietnam veteran Orlander Richardson remains, at 70, an imposing figure: tall and broad-shouldered, like a paratrooper from central casting. Two months ago, he tried skydiving for the first time — and loved it. But during an interview in a bright, spacious conference room at the Levy Senior Center in Evanston, he started to freeze up; memories of his time with the Army’s elite 101st Airborne Division were causing a flashback.

 

Richardson paused to close his eyes and to take the raspy Victory Breaths — sometimes called Darth Vader breaths — he learned a year ago in the Project Welcome Home Troops workshop.

 

The Victory Breath is part of the yoga tradition, said Pam Brockman, Illinois director of Project Welcome Home Troops. The breath stimulates the vagus nerve, which is linked to emotional resiliency and control. When you stimulate it, you calm down, the rush of energy and emotion that comes with acute stress recedes and you’re able to think clearly again.

 

That was the case with Richardson, who emerged from less than two minutes of Victory Breaths able to laugh and joke.

 

“I’m a skeptic,” he said. “If somebody could have told me years ago about trying this stuff years ago, I would have said, ‘You’re out of your mind. How is breathing going to control my emotions?’”

 

But Richardson, a retired mail carrier from Chicago, said that since he took the workshop a year ago, his blood pressure is down, he’s sleeping much better, he hasn’t had a traumatic combat nightmare and he’s able to slow down and react more constructively to the heightened sense of threat that can make ordinary situations terrifying or infuriating.

 

“What do you have to lose?” he tells fellow veterans. “Everyone I know has had positive effects, so there’s something to it.”

 

Moffatt flipped through an album of blurry black and white photos from his time in Vietnam. There was a black mountain rising like a pyramid over flat plains, a broad swath of rice paddies and a makeshift camp where a bespectacled teenager in a dusty uniform gazed, unsmiling, into the camera.

 

Moffatt examined the photo of his younger self: “Look at my eyes,” he said. “They look dead.”

 

During one battle, he said, he was knocked down with a concussion and taken for dead. A lieutenant had actually bent over him, ready to attach a “Killed in Action” tag, when Moffatt sat up.

 

But the worst, he said, taking a deep breath, was what happened at the 1967 Battle of Loc Ninh. He’d been assigned to a mortar crew, which, in turn, was targeted by a Viet Cong soldier. Moffatt would spot the man in the moonlight, raising his head to look around, then ducking back into the underbrush. Finally, after maybe 45 minutes, Moffatt spotted the man making his way toward him.

 

“He stood up, and he was just getting ready to shoot the mortar crew that was probably 25, 30 feet away,” Moffatt said.

 

“Well, I was quicker on the trigger than he was, and I keep on living that time and time again because it went totally against my nature (to shoot someone). I was brought up that you don’t point a gun at anything that you’re not going to shoot and eat. But it was them or him, so I just did it.”

 

He was awarded the Bronze Star, in part, he suspects, because of that incident. A few years ago at a military reunion, a member of the mortar crew came up to him and hugged him: “I never got to thank you for savin’ our (butt).” Still, Moffatt said, the memory haunts him.

 

When he returned to civilian life, he had multiple symptoms of PTSD, including hyper-viligance, in which you’re on high alert for danger. For years, there were embarrassing incidents, such as the time he instinctively ducked under the dashboard of the car his friend was driving, because the brush was pushed back from the sides of the road in a way that would have signaled the threat of snipers in Vietnam. There were sweaty, thrashing nightmares. In the course of a bad one, he said, he could push his wife, Sue, right out of bed. He didn’t even have a word for what he was going through, he said: “It was my own private hell.”

 

At work, co-workers knew not to surprise him by entering his workspace without warning. Once, taken by surprise while he was thinking about Vietnam, he instinctively moved to protect himself, elbowing the co-worker who had come up behind him.

 

Still, he did his best to suppress his feelings, and in some ways, he succeeded: “I was like a lot of guys my age,” he said. “We were working. We had families, houses, cars, jobs. Our minds were constantly busy. We were working for the weekend.”

 

It was when he retired and had time to think, he said, that all the terrible things that happened in Vietnam came flooding back: “I would wake up every 45 minutes or so and scan the room. I couldn’t sleep without facing a door or a window.”

 

After he went to the Veterans Assistance Commission in Joliet to check on his medical benefits, he was diagnosed with PTSD and offered free counseling. A counselor also suggested the Project Welcome Home Troops workshop.

 

His PTSD isn’t gone, he said; it never will be, but now he has effective ways to control it. He’s sleeping better. He’s so happy, he said, just to wake up in the night and be able to stare at a blank wall without immediately turning to check for intruders.

 

During a recent fall morning at the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery, the maples glowed lemon yellow and cherry red. Moffatt joined in the seven-gun salute at his first funeral of the day, chatted with friends and then walked up a small hill for an interview at an open-air pavilion lined by tall grasses and fluttering flags.

 

This is where he’d had that flashback last spring, he said, almost casually. During an earlier interview, he was sometimes tense or hesitant to revisit a bad moment, but now he had found his stride. He wasn’t relaxed, exactly, but he was engaged and confident. He still cares deeply about his fellow soldiers, he had said earlier, and he knows many of them are struggling.

 

“If this helps just one veteran, then it’s worth it,” he said.

 

nschoenberg@chicagotribune.com

Copyright © 2017, Chicago Tribune

Empowering Girls On the International Day of The Girl Child and Beyond

October 11, 2017, Washington DC: According to UNICEF, every 10 minutes, somewhere in the world, an adolescent girl dies as a result of violence. This is an abject violation of human rights. It is time to usher in a world where girls are free from all forms of violence. This year, the International Day of the Girl (11 October) focuses on the theme, “EmPOWER girls: Before, during and after conflict“. The impact of conflicts on girls’ reproductive and sexual health can never be underestimated. Their psychological, reproductive and overall well-being is severely compromised during times of conflict. No community or country can progress unless girls get a chance to realize their agency and fulfil their true potential. The International Association for Human Values (IAHV) strives to work towards a world where every girl, everywhere, has a chance to lead a life free from oppression and violence.

 

Over the years, IAHV has been working in challenging contexts such as Iraq and Sinjar to help girls and women lead lives as they truly deserve – free from violence and conflict. Our on-the-ground efforts have aided the rescue of girls from the Yazidi community. They were offered safe spaces and supportive interventions to help overcome the trauma that they have experienced. Psycho-social support in times of conflict is a critical component to response and protection needs for those who have experienced violence.  Despite these negative outcomes, women have acted as peace mediators in families and societies for generations and have proved instrumental in conflict prevention. Their roles as empowered allies of change and peace must be recognized. From prevention, protection to rehabilitation and empowerment IAHV works towards offering holistic solutions for girls caught in conflict.

 

The rights of girls are fundamental to progress. Human values must not be compromised. As long as girls are confronted with violence, the UN Sustainable Development Goals will remain a moving target.  IAHV stands with all organizations committed to usher in a world that is free from conflict for girls regardless of where they live.

 

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For more information, contact:

Priyanka Ghosh
Communications Officer

Priyank.Ghosh@iahv.org

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The International Association for Human Values (IAHV) offers programs to reduce stress and develop leaders so that human values can flourish in people and communities.

IAHV and The Art of Living will host #VegasMeditates – A free community event to promote peace and healing

Washington, D.C., October 10, 2017 — The Art of Living Foundation (AOLF) and the International Association for Human Values (IAHV) will host #VegasMeditates, a free community event for residents of Las Vegas.

This public event will be held on Oct. 12 from 6:30–8:30 pm PST at the Alexis Park Suites Resort – ‘Ballroom Apollo’, Las Vegas. And it will also be webcast live across the country.

#VegasMeditates will feature highly effective breathing techniques. gentle yoga and guided meditations to help release trauma and stress, and, begin the journey towards healing and peace.

 

For over 37 years, the Art of Living Foundation (AOLF)  and the International Association for Human Values (IAHV) have helped more than 370 million people achieve inner peace through self-development and resiliency programs based on meditation, breathing and yoga.

 

The centerpiece of these programs is Sudarshan Kriya Yoga (SKY) – a rhythmic breathing technique that harmonizes the body, breath and mind; enabling the deepest connection with oneself. Individuals from all walks of life such as students, doctors, prisoners, scientists, professors, veterans and business executives have benefited from this technique. More than 60 independent studies published in peer review journals across the world have demonstrated the benefits of SKY including a reduction in stress, anxiety, depression, PTSD and addictive behaviors, alongside, an increase in peace, empathy and overall well-being

 

These programs developed under the direction of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, a global humanitarian, make the ancient practices of meditation accessible and relevant in today’s fast paced life.

 

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, is the founder of the AOLF and IAHV. All AOLF and IAHV programs are guided by Sri Sri’s philosophy: “Unless we have a stress-free mind and a violence-free society, we cannot achieve world peace.”

 

True to this idea, the volunteers of the AOLF and IAHV continue to go wherever and whenever there arises a need for stress relief and community-building.

 

AOLF and IAHV invites everyone in the community to join them in this effort towards peace building and healing.  

 

 


About The Art of Living Foundation:

AOLF is a non-profit, educational and humanitarian organization founded by a global humanitarian and spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. It offers educational and self-development programs that facilitate the elimination of stress and foster deep inner peace, happiness and well-being.

 

About The International Association for Human Value:

IAHV, a sister non-profit, offers programs to reduce stress and develop leaders so that human values can flourish in people and communities. IAHV fosters the practice of human values – respect for all, an attitude of non-violence, and community service. Through our service projects we develop communities that are resilient, responsible, and inspired.

 

About Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is a global humanitarian and a spiritual leader who has rekindled traditions of yoga and meditation that have helped millions achieve personal and social transformation by relieving stress and discovering inner peace in daily life. Named one of the “Seven Most Powerful People in India,” by Forbes, he has been credited in bringing opposing parties together to facilitate meditation and peace talks in Colombia, Iraq, Cote d’Ivoire, and India.

Mexico Earthquake Relief Appeal

The 7.1-magnitude earthquake, which struck Mexico on September 19, was the deadliest to hit the nation in more than three decades. The seismic event has resulted in over 300+ deaths, hundreds of collapsed buildings and scores of people missing. Multiple tremors have followed since, with many trapped on the same street as where our office used to be. Thousands have lost everything.

 

The rescue effort has been powered by the support of volunteers from the International Association for Human Values (IAHV) in partnership with Art of Living Foundation (AOLF) showing up spontaneously to offer help in every way that they can.

 

Our teams are conducting trauma relief sessions with the affected and with the emergency response teams. Volunteers are joining forces to move boulders and rocks to help rescue those still trapped under the rubble. Volunteers are also offering water and food for the rescue forces.

 

Outside the Mexico city at least 200 cities across 5 different states are in the same situation. A team of volunteers are going to Oaxaca, one of the places, impacted by the first earthquake. The second team will go to Puebla, a state with 114 cities struck by the seismic jolt.

Resources of IAHV and AOL Mexico are stretched thin. Your generosity will provide immediate relief to survivors: food, shelter, water, and medicine. It will also support longer-term assistance to help survivors recover from the consequences of this disaster.

 

 

– Team IAHV

IAHV Stands Committed To Global Goals at UNGA72

New York, September 26, 2017

The International Association For Human Values (IAHV) participated actively in critical conversations at the UNGA72 in New York this week. The main thrust for discussions focused around the need to foster and sustain a culture of sustainable peace.

One of the key areas of discussion included ways to strengthen IAHV’s work with girls and women from the Yazidi communities. The other area of focus included IAHV’s intervention with extremist groups to offer tools and techniques to enable them to choose the path of peace over violence.

“This was a critical week in the global development calendar. We got a chance to explore ways to collaborate, discuss and develop a roadmap for the future. Our work reaches the most vulnerable and marginalized. Our initiatives are strategically aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The global direction is set. IAHV stands ready to contribute towards the realization of the SDGs,” said Filiz Odabas-Geldiay, Executive Director, IAHV.

IAHV reached out to a range of key stakeholders – political leaders, dignitaries, UN officials, ambassadors, members of civil society organizations and others to forge next steps.  The health and rights of the world’s most vulnerable must be protected. The path of peace must prevail in order to realize the potential of the SDGs.

 

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For more information, contact:

Priyanka Ghosh
Communications Officer

Priyank.Ghosh@iahv.org

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The International Association for Human Values (IAHV) offers programs to reduce stress and develop leaders so that human values can flourish in people and communities.

Call for Help : Hurricane Harvey Relief

Hurricane Harvey, a powerful Category 4 hurricane struck Texas with winds of 130 mph making natural disaster history with catastrophic flooding and devastation in Texas and along the Gulf coast.  Thousands have lost their homes and livelihood with no-where to turn.  As the shock of loss wears off, many will face the difficult challenge of rebuilding their lives and recovering from what will be for many, a traumatic life event.
The International Association for Human Values (IAHV), in partnership with Art of Living Foundation (AOLF), is currently working on ground to offer immediate relief and to contribute to the long-term recovery effort to support those caught in the record-breaking flood brought in by Hurricane Harvey.
Your contribution will help in providing critical necessities such as food, clean water, shelter, medical care to those affected. It will also assist in long-term recovery support to those impacted. Stress relief workshops for service providers will be held so that they can help more effectively. It is in times like these when humanity shines at its brightest. The time to act is now. The time to care is now.
We thank you for your generosity.

Warm regards

IAHV & Art of Living Disaster Relief Team
IAHV is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. IAHV is a  BBB accredited charity
All contributions are fully tax-deductible. Please donate generously.

NEW HOPE AND PEACE FOR VETERANS WITH PTSD

Live on The Danielle Lin Show (www.daniellelin.com)

Ancient science breaks new ground in recovery 
Guest: Leslye Moore, National Director PWHT
Guest: Colonel Joel Aoki, Aviation Officer, US Army
Guest: Cyndie Gibson, Ret. Lieutenant Colonel, Medical Director, U.S. Air Force

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Listen to the segment here.

There is inspired hope for returning veterans struggling with the traumas of war. Project Welcome Home Troops is addressing the urgent need to support those who have served, along with their families, who are facing the emotional ravages that PTSD can cause. This proven method is shown to reduce depression, grief, guilt, and pain. The Sky Breathing Meditation course is being offered worldwide with an astounding impact of improving recovery rates up to 40 to 50%. This hour will open your heart with real life solutions.

To learn more: ProjectWelcomeHomeTroops.org

Email: info@pwht.org

HOLISTIC BREATHING MEDITATION SHOWN TO RELIEVE PTSD IN VETERANS

 

 

WASHINGTON, DC — (August 16, 2017) – With reports of 20 veterans taking their own lives everyday, the news of a holistic breathing meditation that is effective in relieving symptoms of PTSD and stress, is literally a sigh of relief. Almost 2,000 service members and veterans have found relief from PTSD and stress, through the SKY Breathing Meditation, offered to veterans at no cost, through Project Welcome Home Troops (PWHT).  

 

On August 24-27, Project Welcome Home Troops will host its first ever retreat for almost 100 graduates of the SKY Breathing Meditation workshop, at the Art of Living Retreat Center, in Boone, North Carolina.

 

“The goal of our this retreat is to build on the skills and techniques learned, which strengthen emotional and social resilience and lead to optimum performance. The social and community component of Project Welcome Home Troops (PWHT) builds strong bonds and paves the way for a more positive reintegration experience for veterans and their families,” said Leslye Moore, National Director for Project Welcome Home Troops.

 

Despite advances in traditional therapy and drug-based treatments, a recent study shows that only 50% of patients who complete such treatments recover. Dr. Peter Bayley, who is leading a clinical trial at the Palo Alto VA Center, to examine the effects of the SKY meditation therapy on Veterans with clinically significant PTSD symptoms, points out, that “Despite promising findings, meditation has not been sufficiently studied in Veterans to recommend its widespread use in treating PTSD.”  

 

Meanwhile, a research team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, studied SKY Breathing Meditation (also known as SKY), because of its focus on manipulating the breath, and how that in turn may have consequences for the autonomic nervous system and specifically, hyper arousal. Within just one week, the vets who received a week long training in the SKY breathing technique already showed lower anxiety, reduced respiration rates and fewer PTSD symptoms.

 

Research among Vietnam veterans (from Australia) who had been suffering from disabling PTSD for 30 years, and had not responded to  multiple pharmacological and psychotherapy regimens during that 30 year period, experienced significant reductions in PTSD symptoms when tested 6 weeks after completing PWHT. The veterans also enjoyed significant reductions in depression. The control group of veterans experienced zero improvement during that time. Six months post PWHT, they enjoyed significantly greater reductions in depression and PTSD symptoms than at 6 weeks.

 

Looking forward to the retreat is Colonel Joel Aoki, a 25-year Aviation Officer with the US Army. After having been deployed numerous times, Colonel Aoki witnessed many tragedies, including the loss of many friends but was overwhelmed after one particular incident, which he says, “broke him.” Over the months that followed, Colonel Aoki experienced the intense grief, sadness, and regret associated with “survivor’s guilt.”  Like many of his fellow service members who return from combat, he attempted to halt the negative emotions with alcohol and intense physical activity. It wasn’t an effective solution, and when the feelings persisted, he began isolating himself from his family. Following a team-building program, took the PWHT workshop and learned the SKY Breathing Meditation. Three weeks later, on the death anniversary of the men he’d lost in that tragic incident, instead of his usual pattern, he chose to honor his guys with the breathing practice.

 

Colonel Aoki says he didn’t expect what happened next. “Normally on that day, I feel a lot of grief, guilt, and regret, but this time, when I finished the SKY Breathing Meditation, I felt a sense of peace; I was actually happy, ” he said. ” Instead of focusing on the past and all the mistakes, it was more like a wake where I was celebrating the wonderful people who the guys were, and the bonds we had with one another. In that moment, for the first time, I was honoring them the way they would have wanted.”  

 

For further information on Project Welcome Home Troops please click here.

 

Project Welcome Home Troops is a program under the International Association for Human Values, a 501(c)(3), in the USA, was created in 1997 by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, as a global platform to solve society’s most pressing issues, by uplifting human values.  The Project Welcome Home  Workshop addresses the most pressing issues facing service members and veterans today. It was created in 2006 and has reached almost 2,000 people. The cornerstone of the program is the researched and evidence-based SKY Breathing Meditation, a scientifically backed technique rooted in the yogic science, which is shown to give relief from chronic and traumatic stress.

About The Art of Living Retreat Center:

Seated high in the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, the Art of Living Retreat Center and Ayurvedic Spa provides a beautiful, inviting place for all people to deepen their spiritual practice. Founded by the renowned humanitarian leader and spiritual teacher Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the center offers Art of Living courses and hosts programs taught by other spiritual leaders and organizations from around the world. With breathtaking natural beauty, knowledgeable staff and harmonious architecture, the center offers a wondrous opportunity to nurture your body, mind and spirit — and to discover the joy of life.

 

 

Contact Information:

The Vanguard PR on Behalf of The Art of Living Retreat Center

KristinAnn Janishefski

kristin@thevanguardpr.com, 310.560.6258

 

Contact Information:

Patti Montella on behalf of Project Welcome Home Troops

pmontella@gmail.com, 512.576.7264

 

Contact Information:

Kushal Choksi on behalf of IAHV

kushal.choksi@iahv.org, 917.836.2819

 

 


		

Emergency Appeal for Support towards India Flood Relief

Dear Friend,

Torrential monsoon rains have caused massive flooding and landslides in northern India and Nepal, affecting millions of people. Tens of thousands have been displaced, people are reported to have lost their lives and hundreds are still missing.

The Art of Living Foundation is responding to this situation. Over the past weeks, thousands of volunteers were deployed in relief work across the states of Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, West Bengal in India and in Nepal. They have been distributing food, water, essential supplies and providing shelter to people in the hardest-hit districts. Psychosocial support is also being offered through  trauma relief camps for those severely affected.

In Gujarat, India, 15 truckloads of relief material worth INR 10,000,000 have been dispatched. Relief goods consisted of food grains, groceries, water, clothes, blankets and generic medicines. Similarly, in Assam and West Bengal, India, and Nepal, several trucks filled with relief supplies were distributed by volunteers.

With your support, The Art of Living Foundation is working relentlessly to help alleviate the suffering of those severely affected. At times of crisis, collective resolution can go a long way to help those who need it most. Your support can offer the gift of life to the most marginalized and vulnerable sections of the population.

Your donation can mean the difference between life and death for people caught in the aftermath of this natural disaster. Your financial support would go towards offering food, clean water, hygiene & shelter kit, medical aid and help rehabilitate flood-affected survivors.

We thank you for your generosity.

Warm regards,

IAHV Team in partnership with The Art of Living Foundation

 

Donate Now

 

Blue Ridge Mountain Meditation Retreat Aims To Bring Peace and Connection to Veteran and Service Members

Veterans are our greatest renewable resource. They are leaders, problem solvers, and team players who thrive in adversity.  However, when they return home from their service, many struggle to fully re-integrate with their families, work life and community.  It can be challenging for a Veteran to relate to the life they left behind after exposure to traumatic events, chronic stress and the adverse conditions they observe people existing in.  When they come home, many experience a loss of camaraderie, mission, purpose and can’t relate to the ‘first world problems’ that civilians complain about.  They are often on their own to process these feelingsIf they reach out for help, they may be offered therapies that offer only partial or temporary relief, or pharmaceuticals that mask symptoms but have undesirable side effects.  Veterans don’t want a handful of meds, they want relief.  They want to feel like themselves again.

 

Recent data from Veterans Affairs now shows the number of Veterans diagnosed with PTSD has tripled from 2008 and in 2017, an estimated 940,000 Veterans are living with PTSD.  Every day 20 Veterans in distress are taking their own lives. It is an epidemic that is impacting the individual Veteran, their family and community and ultimately, is a reflection of our country as a whole. If these men and women are prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice by volunteering themselves for service in the United States Armed Services to serve and protect our country, isn’t it right that our communities honor these veterans and help them to receive the greatest possible support and care on their return?

 

More and more, veterans are seeking integrative health therapies that are demonstrated to be effective in reducing symptoms of PTSD, anxiety and depression.  The SKY Breathing Meditation workshop, of Project Welcome Home Troops (PWHT), a program of the International Association for Human Values, is one of therapies gaining interest and attention from both the U.S. Armed Services and from the Veterans Administration (VA).  PWHT’s multi-disciplinary workshop is offered free of cost to veterans and their immediate family members.   In a few short days, they begin to feel relief from their symptoms, enjoying improved sleep quality & duration, better regulation of emotions, and an improved sense of wellbeing.    After the five–day workshop, many also report feeling more peaceful within and have a healthier connection with the outside world.  

 

Art of Living Retreat Center, Boone, NC

From August 24 – 27th, Project Welcome Home Troops will bring nearly hundred of its Veteran alumni. Veterans from 20 states and the US Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands will come to the Art of Living Retreat Center in Boone, NC. for a weekend of meditation, being in nature and building camaraderie. These Veterans will become ambassadors and teachers for the program, ultimately leaders of PWHT – making the program their own and bringing it to their fellow Veterans across the country.

 

Veterans Practicing SKY Breathing Meditation

SKY Breathing Meditation is presently part of a clinical trial at the War Related Injury and Illness Study Center of the Palo Alto VA comparing SKY Breathing Meditation to Cognitive Processing Therapy, a common treatment for PTSD at the VA.   In an earlier study of the workshop conducted with Veterans at the University of Wisconsin, Center for Healthy Minds and Stanford University, a statistically significant reduction in the symptoms of PTSD was noted.  Follow-up data after one month, six months and a year showed that the improvements measured immediately following the workshop were sustained, indicating that the changes may be permanent.

 

The workshop begins to heal the invisible wounds of war and service.  Changes begin to manifest for the Veteran outwardly, and include improved relationships and hope for the future.  They welcome the reignited sense of camaraderie and report a desire to become a better spouse, parent and employee.  Many of the veterans at the end of the workshop say, “I got myself back.”  This workshop has the power to do for a veteran what years of medication or talk therapy may not be able to achieve.

 

The primary investigator at the VA clinical trial states, “The implication of this program is enormous.  We may have the ability to reach and treat a whole group of Veterans in a significant, efficient and cost-effective way.”

 

Questions or comments? Please write to leslye.moore@pwht.org

 

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