Gerald Vest: Integrative Health - Massage for Injured Warriors, Families & Care Givers    
 Integrative Health - Massage for Injured Warriors, Families & Care Givers11 comments
picture16 Oct 2010 @ 18:32, by Gerald Vest

Because breathing charts the life rhythms, the way we breathe signals the disposition of our energies. Agitation or excitement causes the breath to be uneven and rapid: but when we are calm and balanced, our breathing is even, slow, ahd soft. We can also change our mental and physical states by the way we breathe. Even when very upset, we can calm and balance ourselves by breathing slowly and evenly. Tarthang Tulku, Kum Nye Relaxation, Part 1, Theory-Preparation-Massage, 1978, Dharma Publishing

I have invited one of my favorite all time Body Workers to share his experience about joining this profession and about how his life has become after practicing for over 15 years. Michael Wick, LMT has a special technique and method for relieving stress, anxiety and depression through his body work. He has a private practice by appointment and a massage office; however, Mike has a table on the largest Farmer's Market in NM, Downtown Mall, Las Cruces, NM every Wednesday and Saturday mornings. All of nature is present with the beautiful music, sounds, smells and friendliness of the multcultural environment.

During the past 3 years, while working with Injured and Wounded Warriors at Ft Bliss, TX, I learned during my first 3 months in the Wm Beaumont Medical Center's Restoration & Resilience Center that I was developing and experiencing Compassion Fatique. My symptoms included feeling stress, anger, irritability--emotional feelings with many tears at the end of the day. And, while describing our work with the soldiers to others, I became aware that I am overly sensitive about the war trauma experiences expressed by our warriors daily and the depth and extensiveness of their injuries.

Following one of our Staff Training Sessions with Dr. Fortunato, Chief & Founder of our Integrative Health Center for warriors, diagnosed with PTS(d)and wishing to return to the Force fit for duty, I knew I had to either get my self care going full steam or become a care taker victim of this catastrophic injury myself. I will always be grateful for this learning and for Dr. Fortunato for creating this premier health program.

I can tell you that Massage Works for preventing and treating fatigue--stress, anxiety and depression--and for our Injured Warriors that receive all of the integrative methods for their war injuries that affect their whole being--physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and socially. I thank Mike for being there for me every week to help release this trauma that I store deeply in my back--nerves, muscles, skeletal systems, brain and skull. While using these mindful breathing practices introduced by Tarthang Tulku, I was/am able to maintain high levels of wellness and consciousness. My career is extended and my relations are getting better.

Mike is serving as a body worker and assisting me with coordination of volunteer integrative services with wounded warriors and staff in our Vet Center. This PTS injury requires extensive, holistic and integrative methods for transcending and transforming war trauma experiences into health and wellbeing. Conventional MH therapy does not reach deep enough into the whole being to be fully effective.

This log is designed for us to engage in a discussion of massage, compassion fatigue, and integrative health practices with a remarkable professional therapist, teacher, colleague and friend. Please visit with us in the Comment Area so we can continue to improve our knowledge, skills and values related to touch and physical interaction for improving the quality of lives, health and relationships of our community, warriors, friends and family.


My interest in the body started when I was a young boy. I was always acutely aware of the different sensations my body would experience as I ate, played, slept, wept, shivered, and sweated. I realized my being was more than physical. I experienced emotions, both positive and negative. As I matured spirituality came more into my focus as I started asking “why” to life’s conundrums. During my preteen and teen years I was very physically active in many different sporting activities and events. At 17 I blew my knee out during a football game. This ended my sports career and changed how I looked at life. I underwent five major knee operations in the ensuing five years none of which were completely successful. As passionate as I was about using my body I was hindered again and again. My inability to rely on my knee was ever present. I delved into the academic side of the medical world, researching endlessly, desperately looking for an answer to my perplexing and frustrating physical problem. All this research coupled with the sensations and frustrations within my own body led to a deep and intimate understanding of my humanness and physicality.

Many years later, as I was roaming about the U.S. looking for experiences, a friend suggested I get formal training in bodywork, specifically Rolfing. This made sense to me as my B.A. in Kinesiology as well as a short stint in Chiropractic College gave me a good foundation for this type of endeavor. During the next five years I graduated from two different bodywork schools. The Rolf Institute in Boulder, CO taught me how to approach and manipulate the deeper layers of fascia and other connective tissues. New Mexico School for Natural Therapeutics in Albuquerque, NM taught me an eclectic array of bodywork modalities. I have been practicing and honing my craft for 14 years. My treatments are an amalgamation of Rolfing philosophy and massage techniques. My approach to each treatment involves a very simple goal: locate the tight and congested areas in the body and try to help that tissue relax and let go. I encompass the body in a massage fashion allotting extra time to the tight and congested areas using Rolfing techniques. My belief is that tight tissue impairs circulation whereas loose and relaxed tissue enhances circulation. I also believe that circulation in the body is the key to attaining and maintaining health.

I look forward to discussing my life's goals and activities with you in this forum. It has been a mutual learning experience for me while doing body work with Jerry, his staff and wounded warriors.

I am very happy and contented that I discovered and pursued this scope of practice. During the past 14 years there has not been one day that this vocation has felt like a job to me. It all feels like child’s play. I am delighted to have the opportunity to assist people in their desire for better personal health.

Michael Wick, LMT "Free Spirit Massage," Deep Tissue Therapeutic.

Note: picture is Michael Wick on his daily bike ride.

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18 Oct 2010 @ 14:08 by jerryvest : Thank you, Michael....I appreciate that
you are contributing to my Weblog, but also to advancing the use of integrative health practices for our Injured Warriors and others. Having experienced your skillful massage therapy, weekly, for the past 3 years I can assure others who are working with trauma as a caregiver or victim, your method works wonders.

I hope others will share their experiences here as well. When we think about it, we only know our own experience. I suspect the difference between conventioal mental health workers and those of us in holistic and integrative approaches, we practice what we teach. We are willing to test out these methods on ourselves before we recommend or give them to others. Hmm, I wonder how many psychiatrists will test out the meds they prescribe others.  

11 May 2011 @ 07:04 by Bob Deschner @ : Vet TRIIP Based on Ft. Bliss & Ft. Hood
Hi Jerry,

I just missed meeting you at Fort Bliss two years ago when we toured there.

We developed the Vet TRIIP (Veterans Team Recovery Integrative Recovery Process) based upon what we learned from our visit to Ft. Bliss and talking with Dr. Jerry Wesch/Joe Chang/Dr. Marie Sprague at DAMC. Our goal was to see if we could replicate similar results in a one day program with part time follow through for veterans. We did four Vet TRIIP one days session for Vietnam vets, Women vets, OIF/OEF vets and mixed vets.

After over nine hours in each one day session we achieved two benefits: 1. Not have a single veteran left and 2. they reported a temporary cessation of symptoms for two days to two weeks, during which time they responded better to CBT/medications. By the way, all four sessions were conducted with zero budget and 100% volunteers--MDs, DOs, DCs, PhDs, LMTs, LAc's, EFT pratitioners, medical qigong/reiki practitioners and many others.

We are planning to replicate the program here in San Antonio.

We give thanks to you, John Fortunato and others for showing the rest of us the way to welcome these veterans back home.

The Best,

Bob Deschner

13 May 2011 @ 17:58 by jerryvest : Thanks for you kind words and your
TRIIP program....great work to see volunteers work to improve the quality of life for our warriors, vets and families. We are working hard to develop our Alliance here in Southern NM and provide these services and also connect everyone with a sponsor-advocate. Do visit our website to see our mission, brochure, etc. And, keep up the good work, Bob!!!


16 Sep 2012 @ 23:37 by JoAnne Norman @ : Alternative Healing for Soldiers
My son in law is currently stationed at Fort Bliss. He will begin the WRC program in Oct. I am a reiki master and massage therapist in KS. I have been practicing since 1995. When my son in law returned from his first tour in Iraq. He was having anger issues. I was able to give him a massage and reiki treatment. After wards my daughter said he was back to his old self. I was not able to do this for him upon his return from his second deployment. Since he moved to Fort Bliss in January he as suffered even more though he as been back since 2006. I realized through meditation that the environment at Fort Bliss is very similar to the conditions in Iraq. The desert and the population consisting of a majority of hispanics speaking a different language,not unlike the Iraq peoples. I see how this environment would trigger PTSD. There is much more that I understand intuitively about PTSD and would like to be involved in working with these soldiers. I would like any information on how I can become involved with this program at Fort Bliss. Thank You JoAnne Norman  

17 Sep 2012 @ 17:35 by jerryvest : Becoming involve at Ft Bliss
Our Ft. Bliss R & R Center has been reduced from 6 months intensive & extensive integrative health practices to one month. I suspect the program is short lived as soldiers require services for at least a year with followup and continuing care in the community. I think you can do a lot for the soldiers with reiki and massage where ever you are as these practices along with meditation help them slow down their mental activity and promote healing and restoration. Thanks for visiting my website as this describes how we can respond to these serious injuries that affect the whole being and their families. {link:}  

17 Feb 2013 @ 06:15 by michael oiler @ : no subject;
was looking up your name jerry. michael from rio grande college. michael oiler  

24 Feb 2013 @ 14:30 by jerryvest : Thanks for visiting< michael,
any comments about what you discovered. We often think about Rio Grande and the great experiences we had with our students. jerry  

25 Feb 2015 @ 16:55 by Batter Home @ : Its like you read my mind! You seem to k
Its like you read my mind! You seem to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you could do with some pics to drive the message home a bit, but other than that, this is great blog. A great read.  

7 Mar 2015 @ 09:24 by bodytech-health @ : Hi all, here every person is sharing the
Hi all, here every person is sharing these experience, therefore it’s fastidious to read this blog, and I used to visit this web site all the time.  

7 Mar 2015 @ 16:41 by jerryvest : Thanks, hope you return....
have added several logs to support health services and avoid mental health labels and drugs....  

20 Jul 2016 @ 07:14 by toms sko salg @ : toms
My symptoms included feeling stress, anger, irritability--emotional feelings with many tears at the end of the day.  

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