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Thread: Tai Chi, Veterans & PTSD

  1. #16
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    Good story

    Tai chi helps heal deep military trauma
    'That wood starts to burn and I hear the snapping and cracking… I’ve got to walk away... '
    George Koerner
    Posted on Friday, July 10, 2020 9:00 am Posted in ChooseVA, Health, Mental Health by David Walter



    The image is seared into George Koerner’s brain.

    Koerner served with a U.S. Air Force fire rescue and recovery unit in Vietnam in the late 1960s. He remembers responding to a fire in an airplane hangar.

    “I heard this tremendous scream and realized I couldn’t get them out,” Koerner said. “It took us hours to put that fire out.”

    Once inside the hangar, body bag in tow, Koerner found one of the victims – or what was left of him.

    “The only thing left was the belt buckle and zipper,” he said. “But you have to take everything you can. And you have to live with that.


    George Koerner demonstrates the tai chi moves he said helped put his trauma at bay.

    It’s hard to do that.”

    “When you see your brothers the day before… you have a bond with them. You maybe talked to them the day before or hours before.

    “To this day, it’s hard for me to sit by a campfire. That wood starts to burn and I hear the snapping and cracking… I’ve got to walk away. Those are the same noises I heard trying to rescue our brothers.”

    That was just one of the horrors Koerner, 72, saw during his six years in the military. He also recalled taking wounded soldiers off helicopters – soldiers mortally wounded but still clinging to life, the pain muted by morphine running through their veins.

    “You would see them torn up; you could smell the blood and see the tears in their eyes,” he said. “And you’d lie to them. We would tell them, ‘You’re going to be OK.’ I tried to do everything I could, but I lied a lot to those brothers.

    “And you’d see all those flag-draped caskets.”

    To deal with the pain, Koerner, then 21, would drink. Excessively.

    “I drank a lot. That’s how I suppressed my memories,” he said. “We would work 24-hour shifts, and when they gave us two or three days off, we drank… from morning to night. Many times I didn’t know where I was when I woke up.”

    ***

    Koerner was discharged on Dec. 23, 1971. He remembers coming home to Milwaukee with $35.

    “The uniform came off, and it was no more,” he said.

    But at home, there was no escaping what he had been through and how life had changed.

    The connection to longtime friends had been severed due to the war and the sentiment stateside surrounding the war.

    “I drank a lot. That’s how I suppressed my memories. We would work 24-hour shifts, and when they gave us two or three days off, we drank.

    Work was hard to come by, and Koerner was beset by loneliness and isolation.

    “I was disconnected with people, I was nervous. I didn’t know what was going on. I’d be talking in the middle of the night. It was like I was right back there again.”

    He soon landed a job at Miller Brewing Co., which was both a blessing and a curse: He had good pay and good friends, but also easy access to alcohol.

    He married in 1974, and he and his wife Jane raised a son and a daughter.

    But Koerner admits it was Jane who did most of the work.

    “I worked six or seven days a week,” he said. “I couldn’t understand why my son and daughter didn’t bring their friends over. It was because their dad was a complete *******.”

    At Miller, where he ended up working for 36 years, Koerner met Jeff “Doc” Dentice, known to Milwaukee VA Veterans as the driving force behind the annual “Christmas with the Vets” program.

    It was Dentice who saw what was going on with Koerner. He saw the drinking, the acting out, the angry outbursts and recognized what it was.

    “After 39 years I finally came to VA. Ever since that day, I have been getting help. It has given me another day in my life to see the sunrise and sunset.”

    “He told me, ‘George, you need to get help,’” he said.

    But Koerner wouldn’t listen. He feared losing his job, or worse, being “put away” for being “crazy.”

    But Dentice was persistent.

    “’Come with me. You need to focus on now,’” Koerner remembered him saying. “I was afraid, but I knew I had to do something. I didn’t know what PTSD was. All I knew was how to drink and how I acted.

    “But within days I knew. It was a godsend.”

    ***


    George Koerner suffered trauma from seeing dead bodies in fires, and seeing those wounded and killed in Vietnam.

    Like many Veterans, Koerner lived with his PTSD for decades before seeking help.

    “After 39 years I finally came to VA,” he said. “Ever since that day, I have been getting help. It has given me another day in my life to see the sunrise and sunset.”

    Koerner has taken full advantage of the many services available to Veterans struggling with PTSD, including support groups, tai chi, yoga, physical therapy and working with psychologists, including Drs. Mindy Marcus and Matt Vendlinski.

    He has benefited a great deal from tai chi, saying it helps to calm his mind when he recognizes rising anger within him.

    “The slow moves, the slow motions… It calms me down a little more,” he said. “When I see something that ****es me off… I stop and I think. I go through the moves in my mind. Or if I’m in my living room, I get up and do it.”

    And that’s one of the benefits of tai chi, said Ericka Napoli of the Whole Health Department, who leads the tai chi class.

    “Tai chi uses slow, rhythmic movements along with focusing on the breath and being mindful and present. Practicing that can help decrease heart rate and blood pressure,” she said.

    “When you’re starting to feel elevated, or really agitated, going back to that breath and mindfulness approach that we teach can really help with PTSD symptoms. Controlling the power of the mind to not allow those worrisome, angry thoughts – that’s all part of tai chi.”

    Marcus agreed, saying those fighting PTSD benefit from becoming their own “self-coach.”

    “We teach them to tune into their internal experience,” she said. “That’s an important skill – to know what is happening inside of you. When things bubble up, (they realize) ‘I need to do something right now.’”

    The first step
    Koerner knows he has not been “cured” of his PTSD, but he knows he’s not that angry, bitter, isolated man he was for so many years.

    “I can see improvements,” he said. “I still have nightmares, but it’s better.”

    And he has become a cheerleader for the treatment he has received through the Milwaukee VA.

    “I tell these young Vets it took too long for us to come out, but we’re getting good help,” he said, admitting the first step is the hardest.

    “I was afraid. It was scary,” he said. “But the VA is the best. Anything I can say or do to be helpful to younger Veterans is a blessing.”
    Glad he found Tai Chi.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  2. #17
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    Tai Chi, Yoga & Meditation for veterans



    Study: Veterans May Benefit From Yoga, Tai Chi, Meditation
    By Traci Pedersen
    Associate News Editor Last updated: 26 Aug 2020
    ~ 2 MIN READ

    Complementary and integrative health (CIH) therapies, such as yoga, meditation and tai chi may help improve overall physical and mental health and reduce perceived stress among veterans receiving care in the Veterans Health Administration (VA) system, according to a new study published in a special September supplement to Medical Care.

    The study reports progress toward implementing CIH therapies throughout the VA system, part of an effort to promote a “Whole Health” approach in VA care. As required by the 2016 Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), the VA has expanded research and education on its CIH therapies, focusing on the impact on pain, mental health, and chronic illness.

    The study was led by Dr. A. Rani Elwy of the VA Center for Healthcare Organization and Implementation Research at the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital in Bedford, Mass, and Associate Professor in the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

    For the study, Elwy and team administered a 12-month survey to analyze the impact of CIH therapies on 119 veterans who self-reported on their health and well-being. The Veterans completed 401 surveys at more than five different time points during the study. The surveys focused on patient-reported outcomes (PROs), an important target for efforts to improve healthcare. They focused on the most important problems and outcomes identified by the patients themselves.

    Veterans in the study reported using 14 different CIH therapies. Yoga was the most popular, with nearly half of veterans participating. This was followed by meditation, acupuncture and tai chi. Three CIH therapies were linked to significant improvements in PROs:

    yoga was related to decreases in perceived stress;

    tai chi was linked to improvements in overall physical and mental health functioning, anxiety levels, and ability to participate in social role activities;

    meditation was also associated with improvements in physical functioning.

    “[O]ur study showed that meditation, tai chi, and yoga appear to improve overall physical and mental health and reduced perceived stress,” write the authors.

    None of the CIH therapies were linked to improvements in veterans’ pain intensity or level of engagement in their health care. Larger studies with longer follow-up times may be needed to show significant effects on these outcomes, according to the authors.

    “It is time to focus on health and well-being, as defined by Veterans, and reaching these goals must include participation in CIH treatment approaches,” concluded the authors.

    The paper presents 11 original research papers and commentaries on the VA’s progress in implementing and evaluating the impact of CIH therapies on Veterans’ health outcomes.

    The special issue addresses strategies to build support for and implement CIH programs, to evaluate their effectiveness, and to promote their long-term sustainability.

    “We already know that CIH therapies are effective for the treatment of Veterans’ chronic pain, posttraumatic stress, depression, and other chronic conditions,” write Elwy and Dr. Stephanie L. Taylor of the HSR&D Center for the Study of Healthcare Innovation, Implementation, and Policy, Greater Los Angeles VA Medical Center. “Now we need to develop, test, and use effective strategies to increase CIH use and sustainment.”

    In a commentary, Alison Whitehead and Dr. Benjamin Kligler of the VA Office of Patient-Centered Care and Cultural Transformation said, “As the VA continues to develop new and better ways of making CIH approaches available to all Veterans, and to collect data on the outcomes of this expanded access for Veterans and employees, we hope to demonstrate to the rest of the U.S. healthcare system how an emphasis on whole person care and self-management skills should become the new standard across the industry.”

    Source: Wolters Kluwer Health
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    Gene Ching
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  3. #18
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    ttt 4 2021

    Pilates instructor Heather Gaussa, yoga instructor Jessica Eddins and owner/tai chi instructor Chris Hitchens at Three Treasures Health and Wellness in Bethel Park.
    Tai Chi for Veterans 'hits the mark'

    TYLER DAGUE
    Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
    FEB 6, 2021 9:00 PM
    Chris Hitchens knew he had to make a change.

    Medical issues and joint pain forced him to retire after 26 years teaching chemistry at Peters Township High School. His doctors suggested meditation and yoga, but he settled on tai chi.

    Before long, he became a certified tai chi instructor through the TaijiFit International wellness program and started teaching in the South Hills. In 2019, the Veterans Administration Mission Act expanded the range of treatment options the VA fully covered under insurance. Tai chi was one of them.

    Once the act was passed, Mr. Hitchens looked for his own physical location to run classes. In March 2020, he opened Three Treasures Health and Wellness center in the former Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall in Bethel Park, a week before the coronavirus pandemic hit. While he had to pare down and close for a time, the facility is now open at “around 10%” capacity and offers meditation, Pilates and yoga in addition to tai chi.

    The Veterans Administration Community Care Network began the official Tai Chi for Veterans program, and instructors were vetted as VACCN providers by TaijiFit International as the program rolled out across the country. Mr. Hitchens became one of them.

    Three Treasures now is the only wellness facility in the Pittsburgh area to offer Tai Chi for Veterans, which is fully insured for veterans and their caregivers through the VA.

    “I love the science behind it,” Mr. Hitchens said. “There’s a number of chemical reactions going on in the body when you do a meditative process. Tai chi has many healing benefits with chronic pain. It’s an anti-inflammatory. It helps with mobility, high blood pressure, lower cortisol levels in the body, which cause a lot of health issues. So it helped me a great deal.”

    Tai chi, an ancient Chinese tradition, combines graceful, low-impact movements based on martial arts with a focus on controlling breathing. Mr. Hitchens said Three Treasures often functions as a teaching facility and encourages clients to incorporate meditation and breathing techniques into their everyday lives.

    Now that classes are available through the program, Mr. Hitchens hopes he’ll be able to partner with local veterans organizations to provide the service. He has also offered live Zoom classes for in-home sessions.

    Clayton Crosley, a 10-year Army veteran, had been a volunteer tai chi instructor in VA clinics for six years when he decided to consult his doctor about the Tai Chi for Veterans program. After the consultation, he met with his instructor for weekly 45-minute sessions. Soon Mr. Crosley was teaching in the program, too.

    He emphasized the number of chronic pain and mobility issues helped through tai chi, and he noted the Tai Chi for Veterans version is modified to help with accessibility. He recalled a Vietnam War veteran who had trouble with balance and had a slight tremor. When the veteran focuses on the meditative movements, “his tremor diminishes to the point where it doesn’t exist.”

    “I think this is where it really hits the mark, especially for veterans,” Mr. Crosley said. “It helps you calm down and feel a little more relaxed and balanced. The breathing and the moving really helps manage PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder]. I think that’s a really important thing to be able to not only experience but offer, working with veterans.”

    Mr. Crosley and Mr. Hitchens met through the program as colleagues and have been excited to see the profile of Tai Chi for Veterans raised in the Pittsburgh area. They say the classes provide the social component veterans often miss upon leaving the military and credit the VA for reacting quickly to the pandemic, providing setups for instructors to provide telehealth appointments.

    “Tai chi’s not just working with the physical symptoms of a disease, it’s working on the physical, the emotional and the mental/​spiritual components of it,” Mr. Crosley said. “It takes people like Chris and all the others in the organization to help facilitate it and get it off the ground and running. It’s a very large task.”

    Despite starting out as a skeptic, Mr. Hitchens saw the benefits of tai chi for his own wellness, and thanks to the VA, Three Treasures can now provide the same healing for others.

    He said, “We’re trying to get the word out to serve as many people as we can, as many veterans as we can.”

    Tyler Dague: rdague@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1569 and on Twitter@rtdague.

    First Published February 6, 2021, 9:00pm
    I need to set up a separate thread for TaijiFit soon.
    Gene Ching
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  4. #19
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    CAVHS GRECC tai chi

    Timely for next week.
    Marine Corps Veteran finds tai chi improves his life


    Retired Marine Corps Veteran Frank Geiger practices tai chi with CAVHS Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center (GRECC) instructor Ileina Ferrier.
    November 1, 2021

    CAVHS GRECC tai chi helps Marine Corps Veteran improve oxygen level and balance

    Retired Marine Corps Veteran Frank Geiger was looking for a way to become more physically active and have more socialization. He found it in CAVHS’ Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center (GRECC) tai chi program.

    When he finished the program’s basic tai chi course, he was impressed enough to enroll in the second level. He’s now attended 24 classes and is learning advanced movements while incorporating tai chi into his routine exercise program.

    The GRECC offers Veterans 60 and older the opportunity to participate in a structured tai chi group exercise program from the comfort of their own homes. The 12-week program meets virtually through VA Video Connect twice a week.

    “Tai chi helped with my oxygen level and improved my balance,” said Mr. Geiger. “It’s a mental challenge to remember the movements. I recommend all older Veterans participate.”

    Interested Veterans are encouraged to call the GRECC at 501-257-2523.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
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  5. #20
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    Working Together: Tai Chi Fit for VETERANS

    Read my latest article for YMAA: Working Together: Tai Chi Fit for VETERANS

    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
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  6. #21
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    More for Veterans week

    Topeka woman providing tai chi classes to Kansas veterans
    VETERANS VOICES
    by: McKenzi Davis
    Posted: Nov 8, 2021 / 03:46 PM CST / Updated: Nov 8, 2021 / 03:46 PM CST

    TOPEKA (KSNT) – A Topeka woman is taking the martial arts practice of tai chi and bringing it to people who might need help the most, providing them with a space to relieve stress and getting them back to who they used to be.

    For just one hour of the day, a small, intimate group of people get the chance to breathe and focus on them. Sixty minutes to get away from the built-up stress they are carrying.

    Madon Dailey is a tai chi instructor. Her journey to teaching the form of martial arts is different than others.
    A couple of years back, she took her first class after looking to get on her own health journey.

    When she turned 64, Dailey said she gained weight and didn’t feel comfortable with herself. She tried everything and every fitness class she could find. However, the classes would cause more injuries making things like walking up the stairs difficult. One day, she saw a sign for a tai chi class at the YMCA. Dailey decided to give the fitness classes one more try. Tai chi happened to be the only class she found success in.

    “I want to know what I can do to help make their lives better. Help them get rid of PTSD, stress.”

    Her regular attendance then evolved into her wanting to become an instructor. For five years, she taught tai chi as a certified trainer, but she wanted to do more. She wanted to start teaching a specific group of people. One day, what felt like a sign came to her through a social media app.

    “I started in 2018 saying, “Dear Lord, God, if there is a way I could teach tai chi full-time and help veterans, please let me know.’ In August of 2019, on a Facebook page for tai chi instructors, there was this little blip post that says, ‘Would you like to teach tai chi full time and help veterans?’ I went, ‘yes! Me! Me!'”

    Dailey became an instructor with the Tai Chi Fit for Veterans program. It’s a program that gives those who have served, their spouses, and caregivers a chance to have peace and health either in person or from home.

    “It’s just like giving them back the spirit that they had,” Dailey said.

    On Tuesdays, she teaches a class at the Topeka North Post 400. Steve Christenberry, the vice commander at the post, learned of Dailey and what she was doing for veterans by word of mouth.

    “One of our auxiliary members got a hold of me about a month and a half ago, and said, ‘hey they’re starting a tai chi class in Silver Lake on Sundays,’ and she said you guys might be interested in having something at post 400,” Christenberry said.

    That one conversation then turned into this weekly class.

    The classes are also inclusive, meaning people who can’t stand for long also have the chance to take the classes. Tai chi can be done from a chair.

    “It’s an opportunity for people to get out and be in the community,” Lloyd Price said who attends the Tuesday class. “It also has, I think, some benefits for people. And also, there really is no talking to each other, but the comradery of being around other people rather than being at home by yourself all the time.”

    The classes are also free for veterans because it’s supported by the VA.

    Why tai chi? It’s a low-impact activity that focuses on teaching people how to concentrate, breathe and relieve stress, stress that could have come from the war or the traumas that happened after.

    Dailey shared the story of one of her participants who has seen an immense amount of change since taking the class. He was on prescription medications, couldn’t stand for long, and wasn’t getting out and about.
    Once he joined her class, he was able to ditch the meds and go on hikes. He even got a part-time job he was proud of.

    Dailey prayed for a chance to make a difference for veterans, combining her love for the Chinese martial art of tai chi while helping the men and women who served get back to who they used to be.

    “It’s just exactly what I asked for in my prayers,” Dailey said.

    Click here for more information on classes and how to join. Classers are open to anyone, not just veterans.
    Thank you Veterans!
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  7. #22
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    Qigong for Veterans

    In Colorado’s backcountry huts, veterans find solace and history

    By Stephen Lezak
    November 11, 2021

    Amanda Ingle, left, and Cathy Drew prepare to hike out of the Gates Hut back to the trailhead after a three-day retreat with Huts for Vets outside of Meredith on Sunday, June 20, 2021. Ingle is the Secretary for Huts for Vets and lives in Rifle. Drew is also a Colorado local, living in Grand Junction, and served in the Air Force for 4 years.
    Kelsey Brunner/For CPR News
    Amanda Ingle, left, and Cathy Drew prepare to hike out of the Gates Hut back to the trailhead after a three-day retreat with Huts for Vets outside of Meredith on Sunday, June 20, 2021. Ingle is the Secretary for Huts for Vets and lives in Rifle. Drew is also a Colorado local, living in Grand Junction, and served in the Air Force for 4 years.
    On a postcard-perfect day outside a backcountry hut in Colorado’s Sawatch Range, a group of five female veterans stands in a circle, learning Qigong and laughing.

    It doesn’t show, but these women were strangers until three days ago. They came together for this long weekend with a common purpose: to share their experiences of military trauma and heal. Now, after three emotional days, these veterans are celebrating the completion of what they call “the curriculum.”

    To the uninitiated, Qigong looks like a mix of yoga and interpretive dance. One of the veterans, Amanda Williams, jokingly calls it “Dr. Strange.” But everyone participates with gusto.

    The exercise is a welcome break from hours spent inside the Harry Gates Hut, gathered around a small wooden table and surrounded by the history of a different group of veterans: the 10th Mountain Division of World War II. Like the women gathered here today, veterans of the 10th Mountain Division also sought solace in the Colorado backcountry —but fewer soldiers of that generation spoke openly about the trauma they endured.


    Kelsey Brunner/For CPR News
    Veterans Amanda Williams, 37, left, and Natalie Solano, 33, laugh at photos from the three-day retreat with Huts for Vets on Monday, June 21, 2021. Both women travelled from out of state for the retreat. Williams is from Minnesota and Solano is from California. Solano is an ex-marine and worked as a prison guard at Camp Pendleton.
    A place of quiet

    The retreat is facilitated by Huts for Vets, a Basalt-based nonprofit that organizes free retreats for veterans using the network of backcountry huts built in honor of the 10th Mountain Division.

    Unlike some outdoor-oriented veterans’ programs, the vision behind these retreats has little to do with adventure or adrenaline.

    “Up here, you get to disconnect from everything,” says Williams, who served in Iraq as a Navy hospital corpsman and later as an intelligence officer in the Army National Guard. “You’re connecting with one another.”

    A key vehicle for that connection comes in the form of a hand-bound book given to each participant at the beginning of the retreat.

    The books contain an eclectic mix of readings. Essays by American naturalists are interspersed with writings by Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu, Oglala Lakota Chief Luther Standing Bear, and several American war veterans.

    In one entry, novelist Cara Hoffman writes, “society may come to understand war differently if people could see it through the eyes of women who’ve experienced both giving birth and taking life.”

    Some entries are less literal. “We can live any way we want,” writes Annie Dillard in a short essay entitled, “Living Like Weasels.” “The thing is to stalk your calling in a certain skilled and supple way, to locate the most tender and live spot and plug into that pulse. This is yielding, not fighting.” Huts for Vets’ Executive Director Paul Andersen created the curriculum. In Andersen’s view, the readings are central to the program’s success. “When you marry text with immersion, something positive is going to happen,” he says.


    Kelsey Brunner/For CPR News
    Huts for Vets participants and board members left handwritten notes in the Gates Hut logbook after the retreat on Sunday, June 20, 2021.
    In practice, the curriculum scaffolds the retreat’s central goal: conversations about military trauma. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that between 11 to 20 percent of recent veterans have post-traumatic stress disorder.

    For some of the women on this particular trip, their trauma comes from experiences of combat. For others, it comes from sexual assault or harassment that occurred while they were enlisted, which they refer to as MST — military sexual trauma. The VA reports that 23 percent of women veterans experienced sexual assault while enlisted.

    Back at the hut, Williams speaks candidly about her experiences with both sorts of trauma. She returned to civilian life in 2010 and became a firefighter in Minnesota. It’s her military background, she says, that taught her how to act quickly and stay calm in dangerous settings. “I thrive when there’s trauma situations.”

    Even so, opening up to non-veterans about her experiences in the military remains difficult. “It's hard to put that in a perspective for someone who's never been there,” she says.
    continued next post
    Gene Ching
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  8. #23
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    Continued from previous post


    Kelsey Brunner/For CPR News
    Veterans Laura Albate and Cathy Drew say goodbye at the end of the last group meal for the weekend after a three-day retreat with Huts for Vets on Monday, June 21, 2021.
    As a facilitator, Andersen’s presence is equal parts understated and magnetic, with wisps of grey hair sticking out from beneath his hat. Andersen is not a veteran — he protested the Vietnam War — but he seems both comfortable and humbled in the company of the participants. “It’s incommunicable,” he says of their time in the military. “Even for me to be in such close proximity with veterans, I only get a glimpse of what their experience is like.”

    For his participants, that glimpse is enough. “You can’t pay us to open up to each other, or to ourselves,” says Natalie Solano, who served in the Marine Corps until last year, working as a correctional officer in a military prison. But something about Andersen’s approach — open, nonjudgmental, patient — made Solano feel unexpectedly safe. “The fact that we all open up to Paul, and then he makes us so comfortable opening up to each other? And that changes lives.”

    Solano’s transition away from military service coincided with the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. “We isolate ourselves because it hurts to talk about things,” she says. In her case, the isolation was twofold. Leaving the military, only to enter lockdown at home, was debilitating. This is her second trip with Huts for Vets. “It’s an honor, the hugest honor,” she says. “I’ve been around the block, and this is like, the most valuable thing I’ve ever experienced in my life.”


    Kelsey Brunner/For CPR News
    Huts for Vets participants walk their belongings up to the off-grid campground off of East Sopris Road in Old Snowmass on Sunday, June 20, 2021.
    A hidden history

    Beloved by skiers and hikers, the 10th Mountain Division huts have a little known and often romanticized history.

    In the years leading up to World War II, American military commanders heard news from Europe of armies suffering brutal defeats in Finland and Albania. The balance of entire wars had tipped because soldiers were unprepared for winter weather.

    The United States Army took note. In 1942, the newly-created 10th Mountain Division moved to Camp Hale, near Leadville, to train for combat in the high mountains and extreme cold.

    For many months, the troops hiked, skied, and climbed throughout the Sawatch Range in central Colorado. The Trooper Traverse, a harrowing 40-mile ski route from Leadville to Aspen, was first completed in 1944 on a training mission by soldiers carrying 75-pound packs.


    Kelsey Brunner/For CPR News
    Four of the six Hut for Vets women participants and a board member hike out of the Gates Hut after a three-day retreat outside of Meredith on Sunday, June 20, 2021.
    The Division’s first troops arrived in Europe just six months before Germany surrendered. They pushed Hitler’s forces north across Italy, but at a significant cost. Of the Division’s 13,000 soldiers, more than 900 died and 3,000 more were wounded.

    By the end of the war, the 10th Mountain Division suffered one of the highest casualty rates among all Allied forces.

    Many of those same soldiers returned to the mountains of Colorado. At a time when the psychological trauma of war was rarely discussed openly, some former soldiers found comfort by returning to the same mountains they had recently called home.

    In the 1980s, a group of these veterans and their families began building huts in memory of their fellow soldiers. The Harry Gates Hut is one of them.


    Kelsey Brunner/For CPR News
    The Huts for Vets group eat elk burgers and chat after wrapping up a three-day retreat at the Gates Hut on Sunday, June 20, 2021.
    Closing the circle

    After a closing discussion, the participants begin packing their bags for the 6-mile walk down the valley. One of the facilitators points me toward a bookshelf.

    Memoirs written by veterans of the 10th Mountain Division sit together on a single shelf. Many of their authors were known personally to Andersen.

    Relatively few members of the original Division are alive today, but the association they founded continues to manage the huts. They partner closely with Andersen to allow Huts for Vets to run roughly five trips each year at no cost.


    Kelsey Brunner/For CPR News
    Veterans Dan Glidden, center, and Natalie Solano share a moment at the Huts for Vets off-grid campground outside of Old Snowmass on Sunday, June 20, 2021.
    For all involved, including the participants, the feeling of continuity energizes the work. Although these huts no longer serve the 10th Mountain Division as they once did, new generations of veterans are taking their place.

    After the trip, Andersen looks out over the Roaring Fork Valley. The wildfire smoke that filled the sky the previous night has vanished with the shifting wind. After the last participant leaves for the airport, he reflects on his work and the 10th Mountain Division:

    “Bringing veterans to huts that are dedicated to veterans — it completes their mission in a way that I don't think they ever thought that they could.”
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  9. #24
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    Whole Health System of Care and the Tai Chi for Veterans Program

    Charleston Veterans learning the art of Tai Chi


    Veterans learning the art of Tai Chi for health benefits
    By Chad Isom, Public Affairs Specialist
    December 17, 2021

    IN 2018, the Veterans Health Administration implemented a Whole Health System (WHS) of care to assist Veterans in taking charge of their health and well-being.

    This approach focuses on what matters to Veterans when it comes to their health care choices. The program incorporates therapeutic activities into their health care plan, allowing for continued improvements in both physical and mental health for Veteran.

    At the Ralph H. Johnson VA Health Care System, one of the most utilized tools is the Tai Chi for Veterans program. Currently, the Charleston program is one of the largest in the country, with over 400 Veterans enrolled across the Lowcountry. Tai Chi is a mind-body exercise regime. The principles of Tai Chi are slow-flowing intentional movements, breathing, awareness, and visualization. This program is available to all Veterans attempting to improve their health. The Veteran’s primary care physician can make a referral to Community Care for Veterans struggling with issues related to chronic pain, depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, mobility, and balance.

    A highlight of this program is the ability for Veterans to participate from the comfort of their own homes. Veterans attend sessions virtually, working with instructors located throughout the country. The typical treatment is 30 sessions with the ability to renew the referral for an additionally 30 sessions based on the Veteran’s progress.

    “The goal for this program is a better overall outcome with our Veterans wellness goals,” said Shane Hallowell, RHJVHCS Whole Health Program Manager. “In combining therapeutic options with traditional health care offerings, we are able to provide a comprehensive health care plan that evolves as our Veterans evolve.”

    As interest continues to grow with the Tai Chi program, Veterans are encouraged to speak with their primary care or specialty care providers to learn more about the Whole Health System and the opportunities available.

    Louis Hall is a Veteran that has taken advantage of the Tai Chi program. Hall served in the U.S. Navy from 1968 until 1974, and then enlisted in the U.S. Air Force Reserve in 1981. Hall retired as a Chief Master Sergeant in 2009 from Joint Base Charleston. Since retirement, Hall has experienced issues with mobility and pain. After learning about the Tai Chi program, Hall decided to enroll and begin the therapy.

    “Tai Chi sets the tone for the rest of my day,” said Hall. “It helps with my movement and flexibility and relieves much of the daily pains I experience.”

    Hall has seen improvements in his joints and flexibility over the previous three months and credits the program with assisting in giving him back some of the freedom of movement he had in earlier times.

    “I ran marathons and was very active during my time in the Air Force,” said Hall. “As time went on, I lost some of that mobility. Tai Chi helps me feel like I’m 40, not 72, and I love it. Tai Chi is a worthwhile program for your mental health and physical well-being”

    For more information on the Whole Health System of Care and the Tai Chi for Veterans Program, Veterans should contact their physician.
    Perhaps Tai Chi has always been used to care for veterans. Only the acronym PTSD is new - it's been with us as long as there's been war.
    Gene Ching
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  10. #25
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    Whole Health at TVHS

    Veteran shares experience with tai chi


    Whole Health at TVHS is a new way of looking at health care and treating Veterans as a whole. Rater than treating the symptoms, Whole Health aims to address the root cause of health issues and help patients live better through evidence-based practices.
    By Hannah McDuffie, Public Affairs Specialist
    December 22, 2021
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    The Whole Health clinic at Tennessee Valley Healthcare System (TVHS) is a holistic approach to health care that focuses on overall health and well-being through different modalities of care like yoga, mindfulness, chiropractic, complementary and integrative care and much more.

    Veterans of all ages and capabilities can participate in Whole Health and reap the many benefits it has to offer. To get involved, patients can speak with their primary care provider to learn how.

    One of the many offerings from Whole Health is Tai Chi. Veteran Gerald Meyer shared his enthusiasm and appreciation for the Tai Chi sessions offered at TVHS and recommends other Veterans get involved. Watch what Meyer has to say about the class.

    Short for t'ai chi chüan, Tai Chi is rooted in Chinese medicine and is thousands of years old. Tai Chi focuses on slow movements that come from martial arts and meditation. The goal is to calm the mind and body by repeating rhythmic choreography and breath work for about 30 to 60 minutes.

    Veterans can expect some of the following benefits when doing Tai Chi:

    Relieves stress and anxiety: the meditative aspect of Tai Chi combined with the physical movement can help calm your mind, improve focus, and can even help trigger the release of feel-good endorphins.
    Boosts cognitive abilities: In addition to improving your mental well-being, Tai Chi has also been found to boost cognitive abilities. A 2013 meta-analysis published in the Journal of Sport and Health Science stated that physical exercise, in general, improves cognitive function and researchers specifically recommended Tai Chi for elderly people since it’s a gentler and more accessible form of physical exercise that also combines mental exercises via repeated “choreography.”
    Increases flexibility and agility: Similar to yoga, Tai Chi often involves extensions of the body that can generally improve upon your flexibility and agility.
    Improves balance and coordination skills: In addition to improving flexibility and agility, the intricate “yin and yang” of Tai Chi movements can help you with balance and coordination.
    Enhances strength and stamina: As with any form of physical exercise, Tai Chi can build upon your existing strength and stamina. With ongoing practice, you might find you’re leaner, that your muscles are more defined, and that you’re able to exercise for longer periods of time.
    More on WHS. It's gaining traction.
    Gene Ching
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  11. #26
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    Veterans’ Voices: Tai Chi for Vets
    VETERANS VOICES
    by: Nick Toma

    Posted: Feb 25, 2022 / 05:53 PM EST / Updated: Feb 25, 2022 / 06:08 PM EST

    EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — A martial arts expert is using the ancient discipline of Tai chi to bring stress relief to some people who need it most, veterans.

    On this week’s Veterans’ Voices we’ll meet a woman who’s helping a group of former soldiers, breathe and focus. Getting them back to who they used to be.

    For one hour of the day, this intimate group of veterans gets the chance to get rid of the built-up stress they’re carrying. The woman leading the exercise is Madon Dailey.

    The Tai chi instructor’s journey to teaching martial arts is a bit different. A few years ago she took her first class after wanting to improve her own health and for five years she taught Tai chi as a certified trainer, but she wanted to do more.

    “In August of 2019, on a Facebook page, for Tai chi instructors, there was this little blip of a post that said, ‘Would you like to teach Tai chi full time and help veterans?’ I went, ‘yes, me, me’,” Dailey explained.

    Dailey became an instructor with the Tai Chi Fit for Veterans Program, giving those who have served, their spouses, and caregivers a chance to have peace and health. For vets who can’t stand long, they can do it from a chair. The classes are free and are supported by the VA.

    “It’s an opportunity for people to get out and be in the community,” said Lloyd Price, Veteran. “It also has, I think, some benefits for people. And also, there really is no talking to each other, but the comradery of being around other people rather than being at home by yourself all the time.”

    Why tai chi? It’s a low-impact activity that focuses on teaching people how to concentrate, breathe and relieve stress, stress that could have come from the war or the traumas that happened after.

    Dailey says one of her students credited the class with helping him cut back on prescription medications and go on hikes. He even got a part-time job he was proud of.

    “It’s just exactly what I asked for in my prayers,” Dailey said.

    Dailey by the way is 64 years old.
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  12. #27
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    Our latest sweepstakes. Enter to Win!

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    Our winners are announced

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  14. #29
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    Tn

    Tennessee veterans take part in healing through weekly tai chi class

    Every week, a group of veterans meet for a class that focuses on healing. What they're doing isn't something you would expect.

    By: Forrest Sanders
    Posted at 6:57 PM, Sep 29, 2022 and last updated 4:57 PM, Sep 29, 2022
    MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WTVF) — Every week, a group of veterans meet for a class that focuses on healing. What they're doing isn't something you would expect.

    "I was a National Guard and Army reserves logistics officer. 1980-2001," said veteran Henry Armstrong.

    With that military background, the camaraderie of taking on a challenge as a team still speaks a lot to Armstrong.

    "You got Vietnam veterans, Gulf War veterans, veterans from Afghanistan," he said, looking around an open air pavilion.

    Armstrong — like a lot of these veterans — never expected to be at the Alvin C. York VA Medical Center in Murfreesboro for a class in Chinese martial art tai chi.

    "Breathe in and breathe out," said Terry Mahone of Whole Health as he instructed the class. "Relax. Today, we're going to be doing the four moves for rehab pain."

    "Some of them have PTSD," Mahone said of his class. "Some of them have anxiety."

    "I have chronic pain, traumatic stress disorder," said Armstrong.

    Mahone said tai chi helps the mind by having veterans learn this new skill. He said it helps the body through slow rounded movements. Focus above any distractions is key.

    "We're not just focusing on how our issue compounds us, beats us down necessarily," said Armstrong. "We're thinking about the mindfulness, how to go forward with our issues. The camaraderie is therapy in itself."
    There's a news vid behind the link
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