by Mary Boren
“Don’t make it about Bob & Dottie—it’s all about the vets.”
Bob’s admonition was repeated several times during my visit on Friday, September 6, to observe Vet TRIIP in action, and conversation with the impassioned crew of holistic healers backs up the truth of it. My first surprise was driving up to see our parking lot half full. I even wondered what else might be going on at the church concurrently, as I really had no idea of the number of veterans served by this worthy nonprofit ministry, which is eighty percent reliant on volunteer service providers. I arrived as the volunteers were taking a break by turns to enjoy a delicious lunch prepared by Cara, and eagerly absorbed their spirit of camaraderie and enthusiastic sharing of their knowledge and joy. Along with founders, Bob Deschner & Dottie Goodsun, some of the regulars this day are also familiar faces at Unity of New Braunfels (John, Darcie, Clarissa) and others are led to it through friendships, schools, and professional associations. They are practitioners in Energy Work (Reiki, Qi Gong), Massage Therapy, Acupuncture, and Chiropractic, jointly compelled to use their gifts in whatever way can be of help to the men and women who come home from military service with wounded bodies and souls.
Is it any wonder that veterans’ re-entry into “normal” life is fraught with pain? Bob encapsulates their journey with a single question that few civilians would think to wonder about: “What’s the first thing they give you in the military?” Answer: A buddy. The second thing is a gun. And when your active service has ended, those are both taken away. But you still carry the horrors, whether experienced first-hand or witnessed, that you don’t want to inflict on people you love. They wouldn’t understand anyway.
It has been reported that combat wounds exceed casualties by three to one, almost twenty percent of veterans will come home with PTSD, and many more will be diagnosed with various related battle-induced conditions in the months and years following their return. (Source) They are plunked down stuck in fight-or-flight mode and expected to suddenly buck up, bounce back, and soldier on in a society that is ill-equipped to recognize or empathize with the chronic pain and sense of isolation some of these men and women live with 24/7. PTSD sufferers are 150 times more likely to experience job failure, and the relentless stress of living with physical and emotional chaos has a way of spiraling into eventual suicide at the staggering rate of more than 20 United States veterans per day. But we don’t like to talk about that, do we?
Enter Vet TRIIP (Veterans Team Recovery Integrative Immersion Process)
Through word-of-mouth among families and professional referrals, about 100 men and women are currently being served by Vet TRIIP in four locations throughout the Austin & San Antonio area. There is a bit of reluctance to publicize this, because there is a four-month waiting list and no one wants to see relief delayed for those in need. Each session entails an intake, guided by Dottie, in which the veteran co-creates his/her customized treatment plan based on where it hurts and which of the healing disciplines can be of help. The time on the table might involve any combination of energy work, massage, acupuncture and chiropractic, or all of them, depending on what proves successful for the individual. At the end of the session, relaxed and rejuvenated recipients are brought together for a time of discussion with fellow vets who can relate to one another in ways that civilian friends and family members, no matter how well-intentioned, simply cannot fathom. This part of the process is also facilitated by Dottie, as each of the participants is given safe space and coping tools to use between sessions.
Does it help? We’ll let Ken address that question …
So, truly it is all about the vets. But it’s also about Bob and Dottie, and about everyone else who says “Yes” to their God-given purpose in making a positive difference in the world. If you are feeling called to help with Vet TRIIP, here are some things you could do in addition to supporting it with prayers and donations:
- Help with setup & takedown.
- Prepare lunch for the volunteers.
- Lend clerical or bookkeeping support.
- Do the laundry, as Bev has done for seven years. She wouldn’t take anything for the experience, but wouldn’t mind sharing it.
And/or you could write articles or poetry to raise awareness. Address to PTSD
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