Advancing National Service

The Camp That Offers Battlefield Warriors a New Way to Heal

July 29, 2014
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The Camp That Offers Battlefield Warriors a New Way to Heal
Horse stables before a therapeutic riding session for veterans. Chris Hondros/Getty Images
Warrior Camp uses alternative treatments like yoga and equine therapy to help veterans readjust to daily life.

As we’ve said before, for most veterans, jumping back into life at home is no easy task. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and distance from their former comrades-in-arms can hinder the transition back to day-to-day life. But Warrior Camp is looking to change that by adding a twist to the typical PTSD treatment.

This one-week program runs a few times throughout the year, providing support and treatment for military members and veterans who are living with PTSD. New York resident Eva J. Usadi founded the camp.

Most PTSD treatment centers focus on talk therapy and medication, sometimes putting a veteran on as many as 18 or 20 different drugs. Despite this, the statistics do not reveal positive results. Every day, one active military member commits suicide, but it is far worse among veterans, which average 22 suicides per day.

That’s why Usadi uses a different approach. Her strategy focuses on three main components: equine assisted psychotherapy, yoga and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy. The results are staggering: 68 percent of those coming to the camp with PTSD no longer meet those requirements at the end of the week.

For Jennifer Pacanowski, Warrior Camp provided her with an alternative way to confront her PTSD: Through writing poetry.

“The thing is you can’t talk your nervous system out of being traumatized,” says Pacanowski. “To support your veterans you have to listen to them. You have to listen to their stories. That’s the ritual of coming home.”

Usadi and her veteran alumni, though, credit a fourth component, community, for the camp’s success.

“They train together. They live together and they go to war together in very tightly knit units and some of the people have said we have created that feeling again that nobody has had since they had been discharged,” Usadi told Union Leader.

And it’s that community feeling that continues to drive the camp forward.

On July 19, a gala was held in support of Warrior Camp at Shattuck Golf Club in Jaffrey, New Hampshire. The event was planned and hosted by Thomas C. Harvey, a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Army. Retired Sgt. First Class Harvey decided to have the event to raise awareness about PTSD after being asked to volunteer at Warrior Camp last year.

For his efforts, Harvey was named honorary alum of the camp. But he isn’t done yet as he plans to make the gala a yearly occurrence, especially considering that the event raised $10,000.

While PTSD remains a troubling occurrence, Warrior Camp is proving that no problem is too big too tackle if you have the support and help of community and friends.

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