Hira Barbara Reid – Saturday, January 30, 2010
I have looked forward to this day for some time. Today, Jean Ferris, Reiki Master, with her Reiki students; Glenda Bromberg(wife of the post Commanding General), myself and Program Director Dr. John Fortunato tour the beautiful facility which is the result of John’s dream to promote a program for soldiers suffering from PTSD(post traumatic stress disorder), who have a strong desire to return to active duty. John, while being a psychologist and a Benedictine Monk, is transforming lives of the soldiers and their families using many innovative practices including Reiki as a treatment modality. The program is now in its 3rd year.
As we enter the facility our first stop is pause at the area which is dedicated to remembrances of all the fallen soldiers. The hand carved wooden plaques represent all the official head stones representing the recognized religions of the world. John had a local craftsman put this wall monument together. The soldiers begin their day at this spot paying homage to their own fallen friends. You can feel the incredible energy field that has been collected here. I could have stayed much longer, but the tour moves on, as John takes us through all the rooms and aspects of the program.
There are 12 therapy rooms which includes massage,biofeedback, Reiki, acupuncture, counseling to include individual and family and other rooms for meditation, yoga, tai chi and a recreation area. Other activities include water volleyball, field trips and simulated training activities. The program is very inclusive and is the first program to address treating all the bodies(mental, emotional, physical and spiritual) that are injured by multiple deployments in a combat situation.
Multiple deployments without recovery is the most damaging aspect to the human soul, as I see it. I discover that John and I were in the Republic of Viet Nam at the same time frame 1969-1970, he, being at Cam Ranh Bay and I, at Qui Nhon. I ask him if the current PTSD soldiers are more injured than the PTSD soldiers of Viet Nam and he answers,”yes, because of multiple deployments.” He tells a story of a young soldier who was selected for the program. His PTSD was so severe that there was question as to whether he could return to active duty. The soldier pleaded to be included and was finally selected with reservations. His father stated, that when his son returned after the first deployment, they knew something was wrong. After the second deployment, their son was severely involved and after the third deployment, they no longer recognized this soldier as being the son they had raised. After the soldier had been through the majority of the program, John received a call from the father stating, “thank you for saving our son’s life and giving him back to us.” As John tells this story, we all become affected by it.
As John describes more in detail of the soldier’s problems, it becomes evident how severe their injuries are. One of the great benefits of Reiki in the beginning of the program is the soldiers can finally get the well needed sleep that they need to heal. The result is that the dosages of sleep medications are reduced dramatically in the first 2 weeks. The severity of PTSD was an eye-opener for me. Cognitive dysfunction,( attention-memory deficits, paranoid ideation, obsessive rumination on combat traumas), avoidance and persistent arousal are just a few of the problems.
John goes on to speak about the 5HHT Gene, which regulates serotonin in the body. People who have a genetic variation called SS, have 4-6 times the chance of getting PTSD than people who have the ll variation. There are many soldiers who have had multiple deployments and can carry on with their duties without these grave consequences. John gave us 2 hours of his valuable time to share his passion, and his love for this special program. Not only is this program unique, but John is the kind of man who is helping our young soldiers heal their lives in a way that no other has done.
Having this tour, brings my attention to a long time desire of mine to offer Reiki to our soldiers at Ft Lewis. The time seems right to investigate its possibility this year.
The other night I went on line to see what is being offered at Ft Lewis, Wa. I ran across some files to assist soldiers in filling out their applications for PTSD evaluations by the VA. I downloaded the forms and to my surprise I found the instructions to be in a very compassionate format and encouraging the soldier to take their time in detailing their experiences, no matter how difficult the process it might be. Perhaps, a loved one or friend could write down the experiences, as they spoke. The questions probe deeper into the psyche and I found myself recalling my own Viet Nam/ military experiences. I could tell my heart rate was picking up, my hands became sweaty and I had a feeling of some kind of uncomfortableness within my being. When I reached the part where the instructions say, “if you are finding difficulty in answering the questions, take a break”, which I did, and began giving myself a mental-emotional Reiki treatment.
While looking online, another area which surfaced were the commentaries regarding the Purple Heart Medal. This medal, of course, is given to all soldiers who have been wounded in action within a combat theater. Wounded, meaning the physical body, not the mental, emotional or spiritual body. As one Viet Nam veteran stated, I got the Purple Heart Medal for a shrapnel wound on my arm and by the time I received the medal, my wound was healed. Now, 40 years have passed, I can no longer see the scar, but I continue being plagued by nightmares and flashbacks of the war. Perhaps, it is time the Department of Defense re-visit their policies for dispersing this medal.
Reading these commentaries really opened my eyes. I am in disbelief, that the military isn’t giving these soldiers the Purple Heart Medal. We have to stop thinking of soldiers being wounded only in their physical bodies. The physical body is the container for the soul, the mind, the emotions and the spirit and they are all connected and integrated. If any part of you is wounded, the whole is wounded and since we give a medal for being wounded, let all these wounded soldiers receive their Purple Heart Medal.
Thank you John, Jean, and Glenda for giving me this wonderful opportunity to see how lives are being changed at Ft. Bliss with the help of Reiki and for opening my eyes a little wider.