"If veterans can achieve awareness, transformation, understanding and peace, they can share with the rest of society the realities of war. And they can teach us how to make peace with ourselves and each other, so we never have to use violence to resolve conflicts again"
-Thitch Nhat Hanh
I recently completed a journey to become certified with Warriors At Ease , to deepen my own awareness and understanding of trauma, how the brain responds to trauma, and how I can better serve those who selflessly give of themselves so that the majority of us can sleep peacefully at night. Since I'm a civilian, I found the training to be pretty amazing; it's evidence based, trauma sensitive, and informed by the unique aspects of military culture that I wasn't aware of prior. I do have a unique perspective, as a wife to a police sergeant of 20 years served-I've seen what years of high stress, constant on-call status, and a deep personal sense of duty above the self can do to someone. The first responder community, along with veterans & their families, are underserved in ways to support their own wellbeing-and it's my deepest desire to help ease that suffering, if only in a small way.
Warriors At Ease early beginnings were in 2006, when the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) funded studies at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, as well as VA Medical Centers in Washington D.C. and Miami, Florida. The founders of WAE supported these studies and were committed to sharing new, yet ancient ways to create positive change for the veterans. The focus of the studies was on the effectiveness of yoga and meditation as an adjunct therapy for combat related health conditions, like PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury). Because of the widespread success of these studies, more teachers were needed to share the practices in a trauma-sensitive, safe and relevant way. The Warriors At Ease program is founded on over 10 years of empirical evidence from faculty and experts in the field of yoga therapy.
To me, trauma is trauma is trauma...however you may have experienced it, know this-if it's not dealt with & it gets pushed
down, it can eat you alive. There is help, and you do not need to suffer in silence. While we all may have experienced trauma in different ways, through different scenarios, or at different times in our lives...one thing is the same-the way our brain processes it.
There are three main areas that are affected by our response to trauma: the prefrontal cortex, amygdala, and hippocampus. I'll be going into detail about each of these areas in my next post. They all play a big part about why long after the trauma has occurred, we can still FEEL the trauma in our physical body, even years after the fact. It can feel like an unbreakable cycle of re-injury-but it doesn't have to be.
The beauty of experiencing the training through WAE is that the trauma-sensitive approach is now part of the way I teach, not just in a specific class, but across all of my teaching, whether it's a physical yoga class, or yoga nidra class. In the military community, yoga nidra is called iRest (Integrative Restoration) and follows a particular protocol. It's the same protocol I focus on in my classes. I'll be taking a deep dive into iRest, why it is effective, and how in only minutes a day, you can rewire your stress responses, helping you achieve a greater sense of wellbeing on a daily basis in upcoming posts.
Please know that you are not alone-regardless on how isolated you might feel in your pain. There are others who understand, and many who are willing to help. I'll share some resources below. If you are serving a veteran or first responder group, or really anyone connected to a trauma-focused group for healing, please feel free to reach out. I'm more than happy to offer my services or support in any capacity-yoga, yoga nidra (guided meditation), or support in connecting to resources.
Here's to better health, resiliency and connection for all of us.
Delaware Commission of Veterans Affairs
The Delaware Commission of Veterans Affairs (DCVA) was established in 1987 to provide assistance to Delaware's veterans, their spouses and dependent children. The Commission, consists of 15 members appointed by the Governor, each for a 4 year term. 15 members are selected by their respective Department's and 3 At Large members are appointed by the Governor to represent veterans throughout Delaware.
Veterans Crisis Line
Connect with the Veterans Crisis Line to reach caring, qualified responderswith the Department of Veterans Affairs. Many of them are Veterans themselves. If you are a vet, or are concerned about a loved one, please use this link to connect and find help.
The Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) is a Department of Defense (DoD) organization that provides guidance across DoD programs related to psychological health and traumatic brain injury issues. Their mission is to improve the lives of our nation’s service members, families, and veterans by advancing excellence in psychological health and traumatic brain injury prevention and care. DCoE leads a groundbreaking collaborative effort that includes the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), civilian agencies, community leaders, advocacy groups, clinical experts, and academic institutions that are dedicated to expanding the state of knowledge of psychological health and TBI.
The National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE) is a treatment planning and research facility located in Bethesda, Maryland. The NICoE has been designated a Center of Excellence due to its unique capabilities and mission of providing cutting edge treatment planning, diagnosis, research, and education of service members and families dealing with the signature wounds from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars such as Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Psychological Health (PH) conditions. The NICoE provides an interdisciplinary team assessment in a holistic, patient and family-centered environment combined with high tech diagnostic capability.
National Center for PTSD aims to help veterans and others through research, education, and training on trauma and PTSD. The Center has seven divisions across the country. Although it provides no direct clinical care, they work to assure that the latest research findings help those exposed to trauma.
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) is the Federal Government’s lead agency for scientific research on complementary and integrative health approaches. NCCIH is one of the 27 institutes and centers that make up the National Institutes of Health (NIH)within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.