New programs for post-traumatic stress, or PTS have been developed over the past few years. We visit a sailing camp and other alternative programs that work with U.S. veterans who suffer from PTS and traumatic brain injury.
New programs for U.S. veterans with PTS
New programs for post-traumatic stress, or PTS, have been developed over the past few years.
In this next segment, we visit a sailing camp and other alternative programs that work with U.S. veterans who suffer from PTS and traumatic brain injury.
Here's the story.
We have a term, post-traumatic stress, that's well-known across the United States, and we've attached that to our veteran population.
Brian Anderson is the founder of the Veterans Alternative Center in Holiday, Florida.
Here, veterans are given an opportunity to deal with the trauma they've brought back with them from war.
Post-traumatic growth takes a point in time -- that same traumatic incident someone might have gone through -- and it looks at the growth factor for that person, how they can actually utilize that experience that they've gone through and use that to propel them and their life afterwards to help others out.
Veterans are introduced to a variety of activities to help re-establish themselves back home.
Post-traumatic growth is really focusing on life after war, focusing on purpose, direction, and motivation for each one of our men and women who are coming home and helping them re-establish themselves inside the civilian world.
The camaraderie is definitely one major piece.
The physical fitness -- nostalgic, as well.
And then we bring in other pieces to help them overcome some of the hypervigilance that they might face after coming home from war -- some of the yoga that we do to help calm the breathing and martial arts to kind of help a warrior really stay intact with that primal instinct that they've unlocked, but to utilize it in a healthy way so that they can become great leaders and responsible citizens in life after war.
The Warrior Sailing Program is another organization aimed at helping veterans returning home from the battlefield.
The main goal of the Warrior Sailing program is to introduce wounded servicemembers and give them opportunities in sailing, and we put on three-day basic-training camps all around the country.
Although these veterans are learning sailing, the program has tremendous therapeutic value.
The major part of the therapy that we provide is almost disguised in the sport.
The sport itself of sailing is teamwork, working in small groups.
You have to communicate with each other, but there's also the competitive side.
Shernea is a military veteran with PTSD.
She looks for ways to help alleviate her symptoms.
Depression is the biggest thing and anxiety and having to deal with a lot of people and crowds.
She came to the sailing camp held in St. Petersburg, Florida, not knowing what to expect.
People think that when you go sailing that you're just on a boat and you're riding, but when you're doing the sails and you're at the helm and all that, it's a lot of work.
And the hard work has paid off.
Shernea recognizes the benefits of sailing into a new future.
Personally, it's been really good because it gets me out of my shell -- gets you out there, gets you active, too.
And meeting with other vets and having things in common really helps.
Jamel was wounded in Afghanistan.
Both his physical and mental injuries have changed his life.
My biggest issue was getting along with others, I guess, after my injuries from Afghanistan.
I was shot a couple times.
I got shot in my chest, in my leg, in my arm.
Being able to come out here is a big, big challenge for me -- just being able to get on a boat and keeping my balance.
The challenges of taking orders, working as a team, and performing as a sailor has enabled Jamel to overcome.
Simple commands, simple fluctuation in people's voices kind of challenges me, but I realize that this isn't a combat setting, and for me, it benefits me just simply because I know we're all in it together.
I'm not doing this myself anymore.
I'm not struggling by myself.
I think this program benefits all veterans, simply because it kind of gets them away from the combat mentality, and just simple sailing -- enjoying life, listening to the ocean, listening to the airplanes, birds, and talking to other veterans, struggling just like you.
We're just here to provide that little bit of a push and little bit of activity beyond other traditional kinds of therapy.
Another veterans support organization takes warriors on trips requiring physical and mental toughness.
The Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge takes participants on mountain-climbing expeditions, as well as underwater adventures.
Anywhere from probably 60 to 70% overall of our veterans are actually folks that did suffer from some level of PTS or traumatic brain injury.
This organization has stepped up to do more for those suffering from PTSD.
There's a huge need in both PTS and TBI -- both to research what therapies work and then measure those.
Now, most of the veterans that we take on our challenges, they have mild to medium PTS, I would say.
But they still are looking for maybe a purpose.
One of those looking for a purpose is Rocky.
I spent more than half of my career in the United States Army Special Operations Command.
We operate in a 12-man element, and we lost four guys, so that's one-third of our force.
After serving his country, Rocky returned home, along with his traumatic memories.
Post-traumatic stress manifests itself with me as being, you know, through anger.
I almost lost my family, and a few friends, I did actually lose.
You know, it's tough.
My Care Coalition advocate called me up and said, 'Hey, I've got this trip up in Alaska to go out on a trek.
Is it something you'd be interested in?
I was like, 'Wow.
You must have read my mind.'
With the challenge behind it, with your teammates pushing you, everybody thrives off of each other.
If nothing more, it puts you in a place where you were before your traumatic event, and you feel whole again.
Whether finding camaraderie at a backyard barbecue, working as part of a team on a sailboat, or climbing high upon a mountaintop, veterans, their families, and support organizations are working together to help fight the devastation of post-traumatic stress.