|7 Aug 2010 @ 14:05, by Gerald Vest|
"...let me say that as human beings our basic aim is to have a happy life; we all want to experience happiness. It is natural for us to seek happiness. This is our life's purpose. The reason is quite clear: when we lose hope, the result is that we become depressed and perhaps suicidal. Therefore, our very existence is strongly rooted in hope. Although there is no guarantee of what the future will bring, it is because we have hope that we are able to continue living. Therfore, we can say that the purpose of life, our life's goal is happiness." The Dalai Lama, Dimensions of Spirituality, p.3.
Having been involved in the healing process of over 200 soldiers since 2008, I am inspired to improve the quality of lives, health, and relationships of injured warriors, veterans and their families through integrative health practices that have been proven effective. I have recently met with the California Coalition, Ft. Bayard Restoration Project, Menzies TBI Clinic, and others to assist with endeavors to facilitate the healing of soldiers and families diagnosed with PTSD/TBI. The US Army premier Ft. Bliss Restoration & Resilience Center (R & R Center)can only treat Warriors willing to return to the Force, fit-for-duty.
Our team is highly motivated and we are eager to transfer our 'hands on' knowledge and experience gained during our many years in the development of comprehensive, intensive and extensive treatment programs applying integrative and holistic health methods and approaches with all injured and wounded warriors and their families.
It has been my observation over the past 25 years, while serving as the Ft. Bliss Stress Management Trainer with the US Army Community Services and as clinical/holistic social worker in our R & R Center, that soldiers and veterans treated using primarily conventional mental health methods and psychotropic meds will unlikely be successful. PTSD is an injury that affects the soldier and his family and our wider community. Identifying this injury as a mental health 'disorder,' rather than as an injury that affects the whole being--physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and socially--is a big part of the problem for soldiers.
The integrative model, therefore, recognizes what affects one part of a system affects all systems, is the appropriate and healthy way to transcend these limited mental health practices and injurious labels (eg.,Brain Disorder). The conventional mental health approach has not worked and it is time to change.
Those warriors suffering and hiding out in their homes, in institutions,under bridges and in despair and pain, only show us the failure of the conventional mental health model, the failure of psychotropic drugs and, the failure of our professional health education and welfare programs for continuing to support them.
Far too many SM's "fall between the cracks" because of the poorly administered, limited mental health model that is focused primarily on sick care rather than on the whole person in interaction and in relationship with Nature and with all that is.
It is definitely time to change these limited, sick care approaches--labeling and drugging our soldiers. We have great healing and wellness methods that work wonders and give hope for this dreaded injury. These are the programs and the treatment modalities that our Wounded Warriors experience regularly: meditation, massage, acupuncture, therapy dogs, reiki therapy, movement therapies, therapeutic arts, water therapy, a cleansing of toxins, biofeedback, therapeutic outings, gestalt group therapy, holistic self-care plan, health education, evaluation, aftercare and followup. Why would we not give our service members everything they deserve to get better as well as offer their family a support system? See Belleruth's article on how meditation helps our soldiers. She is especially known for her guided meditations and they work. [link] Meditation and mindfulness also helps soldiers in war zone. [link]
As another example of an integrative approach, our 15-Minute StressOut Program is very popular with our Wounded Warriors and Vets in nursing homes and other programs as the Power of Touch, coordinated with the Vitality of Breath produces an empathic connection and positive relationship as we welcome them all home from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Please let us know if you can help our Team Leaders introduce and teach this health practice with every Veteran, Wounded Warrior and their Family and others in your community. Contact: [link]
Soldiers share power of touch with veterans
WBAMC Public Affairs
More than 15 Soldiers from the Fort Bliss Restoration and Resilience Center visited the Ambrosia Guillen Texas State Veterans Home in Northeast El Paso July 15 to share with fellow veterans the benefits of the 15-minute StressOut Program.
The program was designed by Jerry Vest, an Army veteran and a clinical social worker with William Beaumont Army Medical Center’s R and R Center. The program was first developed by Vest in 1979. After giving more than 40,000 “stressouts” over a 30-year period, he has learned that the program is safe with all populations.
Vest introduced the program to the residents of the veterans home by showing a “Welcome Home from the Wars” DVD, and an instructional video about the “stressout” program, and a video that provided guidelines for the safe use of touch.
“Both the giver and receiver of this program serve as partners to connect the vitality of breath with the power of touch,” said Vest. “This brings about mindfulness as an intrinsic awareness program for both the giver and receivers of touch and physical interaction.”
He explained that while systematically applying pressure points and introducing the “laying-on-of-hands,” we remind the givers and receivers to maintain an awareness of their breath throughout the activity.
“The chair-like massage becomes like a partner meditation – relaxing yet energetic,” he said.
Willie Brown, activities director at the veterans home, said he had been working with Vest for more than a year. “This is a fantastic program that highlights the power of touch and its healing benefits.
“Many of our veterans have forgotten about touch. The only touch they routinely receive is when they need help transferring from bed to their wheelchair,” he said.
“I watch their faces and can visibly see the release of tension. They comment on how good they feel afterwards.
“The benefits are two-fold, for both the Soldiers, as the givers, and for our elderly veterans.”
The veterans from the home were brought to the activities room in two groups to allow for maximum participation. One of the residents said she was a little hesitant and didn’t know what to expect. Her Soldier partner talked steadily to her while gently employing the techniques he had learned. She smiled and relaxed and asked when they were coming again.
After the session, a Soldier commented that this was his second visit, but wouldn’t be his last. He added that it felt good to feel someone relax using the techniques they had been taught. Another Soldier added that he felt comfortable being around other veterans and felt a sense of brotherhood. Both Soldiers said they had learned a lot about the power of touch.
“This healing touch is a gift from the wounded warriors to you, and from you to them,” said Vest to the elderly veterans. “Everyone can benefit from the power of touch.”