Tag Archives: beau chatham

War Trophy Photos in the LA Times & Dr. Phil: A Very Busy Week

By now, the outrage and uproar over the photos submitted by a soldier to the L.A. Times of a biometrics team posing with self-blown up Taliban is complete. Those of us with loved ones in the game are upset, but for different reasons than those who use it for their own political posturing to prove  war is bad, and the world should hold hands like a CocaCola commercial. I wish. But frankly, there has never been a time without war. As long as there are bad guys leading selfish lives, who resort to violence to get what they want, there will always be war. I’m sorry. I know you might be a yoga type, and my point of view upsets you. But I’m a yoga-doer too, and war is a circumstance I accept, and try to find the most acceptable means to work around it to help others.

So I guess it falls to this small yoga blog to point something out amid the clamor. Those who took the photos were coping with the reality of the gristly job they were assigned. In the middle of sorting through body parts to get fingerprints or retina scans, someone broke up the tension with the snap of a photo. Their job was awful. I’m sure they never imaged they’d be doing this when they volunteered to serve.  This stuff stays with them their entire lives. It wakes them up, it fills them with anxiety.  For those who can’t move past the trauma, it greatly alters whether or not they can live in the present.

Everyone into boat pose! MSgt Chris Eder and former Marine Elijah Sacra lead a group at Fort Meade.

In the roar of the outrage, let me point out the discussion we’re most interested in is the one people are ignoring. WarRetreat is interested in how these men and women, who have such difficult jobs, cope in the long term with the side effects of traumatic stress. So, while everyone is adjusting their cajones, why don’t they just shut up and help by learning everything they can about PTSD and how movement and breath combined with the traditional talk therapy (and if need be medication) can yield better results. Let’s not lose site of the aftermath, and what we can do for this generation of warriors that wasn’t done in the past to help them regain both breath and life.

 As my friend Warrior Life Coach, Beau Chatham pointed out in a Facebook post with a quote from the great one:

“Don’t criticize what you don’t understand, son. You never walked in that man’s shoes.” – Elvis Presley

The shoes they walked in: After a MASCAL, my husband's Forward Surgical Team would take their shoes outside to have them powerwashed. Elvis was right.

I also want to bring up the Dr. Phil show and an episode called “From Heroes to Monsters?” It was an unfortunate use of hyperbole, cooked up by his attention getting staff. Stereotyping those who suffer from PTSD only helps drive them under the rug away from getting help. And we’re not only talking about those who serve in the military –we’re talking about the other 90% of the population who also suffer from PTSD.

Just for the record: people with PTSD by and large do not go out and commit violent crimes against others. On the contrary, most with PTSD suffer alone with greatly diminished lives. They are afraid to admit their issues for fear of looking weak, or worse, because they just don’t want to inconvenience anyone. Even if they are suffering a lot. In addition, someone with PTSD may behave monstrously at times, however, this does not make them a monster. Rather, they are a human being living in intense emotional pain. If you want more on PTSD, swing by our Essential Reading list up on the top menu, compiled by our own Jillian Hunsanger. 

Dr. Phil and his staff were irresponsible by taking a cheap shot in order to gain an audience. I’ll let Uncle Jimbo of the blog Blackfive wrap it up.

The Warrior or Yes, Sometimes We Can Be Bears

Sometimes we have to be a bit of a bear while trying to push past stereotypes that many civilians have in an attempt to bring those who have served to the mat. And really, Jillian and I are both very sorry if sometimes it seems we grunt a lot.

Last year at Kripalu, the term warrior was bandied about. Several people wanted to know if veterans would object to a pose being called Warrior Pose. Another person said she called her students yoga warriors. Jillian and I watched this conversation –mainly between people who like most of America, had very little interaction or experience with people in the armed forces. It’s true, today the word warrior is applied to everything, and when thinking of oneself as one, it can be a transformational thought. But to us, Warrior has a different meaning, one that is intertwined with a set of cultural and institutional beliefs, and more to the point, going through a system to attain the title.

Run by former Army Ranger Beau Chatham, Warrior Life Coach covers a variety of topics to help veterans find a positive path.

So I raised my hand. “Someone who has served, and especially one who has been through combat has earned the right to be called a Warrior.”

For more on the warrior ethos, veterans issues and finding a positive path, please go see my friend former Army officer Beau Chatham, of Warrior Life Coach