(WSVN) - They put their lives on the line for our country, but many vets say coming home means a world of uncertainty and instability. 7’s Jessica Holly shows how a local organization is helping them heal their wounds.
These South Florida veterans are learning to let go.
Judy Weaver, founder, Connected Warriors: “They can let their guard down that little bit, and then the healing process starts.”
Here, they breathe and stretch during a special yoga class created with their special needs in mind.
Judy Weaver: “We’re in 24 states and nine countries. We have classes on active duty military installations.”
Yoga instructor Judy Weaver developed the Connected Warriors organization after a veteran approached her several years ago.
Judy Weaver: “The doctor diagnosed him with ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease. And with that, the doctor was very forward-thinking, and suggested that he go find yoga to breathe and move.”
And that got her thinking — could yoga help other veterans with injuries like post-traumatic stress disorder?
Vets like Randy Hamlin say the answer to that question is a resounding yes!
Randy Hamlin, veteran: “According to the VA, I’m 100 percent disabled, with PTSD and gunshot wounds.”
Randy served in Vietnam. He fought the inner demons he brought home from the war for decades
And then he took one of Judy’s classes.
Randy Hamlin: “By getting into a yoga practice, it just made me more aware of those things. All of a sudden, my body felt different, my moods started changing, and it’s like when the light went on, you know?”
One in three veterans suffers from some sort of mental health issue, so VA hospitals and clinics across the country are working with Connected Warriors to offer free yoga therapy to service members.
David Frankel, yoga instructor: “You see the level of calm increase in the room, and their level of anxiety reduce. Everybody gets it.”
David Frankel left his job as a state attorney in Broward County to join the program and teach yoga classes. He says it took some time to convince veterans to try it.
David Frankel: “Some of them, ‘I’ll never get involved in that.’ Some of them were immediately responsive.”
A few of the Connected Warriors members have also gone on to become certified yoga instructors — including Randy.
Randy Hamlin: “One of the more gratifying things is being able to teach and see the change in the students.”
And they hope to continue to help veterans find peace one breath at a time.
The Connected Warrior classes are offered at yoga studios all across Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
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