Tag Archives: coming home

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NASHVILLE: Operation Purple Family Retreat OPEN

imagesCalling all veterans and active duty in the Nashville / Ft Campbell area. National Military Family Association is still taking registration for their upcoming Operation Purple Family Retreat October 3 – 6.  Other than getting you and your family there, it’s free.

From their site:  Coming back together after a deployment can be difficult. Operation Purple Family Retreats provide military families with the opportunity to reconnect as a family. We are using our popular ‘camp’ approach and bringing families to beautiful outdoor locations in order to provide fun family oriented activities, new memory making, and the ability to spend quality time together. Specially adapted communication activities developed by FOCUS (Families OverComing Under Stress ™) ensure families return home stronger. Families are able to connect in a “purple” environment that brings families from all ranks and services including National Guard and Reserve components together as a community. We are climbing, hiking, canoeing, bonding, eating s’mores, and more!

operation-purple-logoAbout the retreat and the camp:

Apply Now!

YMCA Camp Widjiwagan is located on the shores of Percy Priest Lake, in Nashville, Tennessee, just 20 minutes from downtown. Joe C. Davis YMCA Outdoor Center sits on 320 acres and 4 miles of shoreline. Water Activities include: swimming, Wet Willy Water slide, the Blob, sailing and many more. Land activities include: horseback riding, soccer, basketball, alpine tower, zip line, archery, arts & crafts and many more.
The camp sponsor is the wonderful USO.
Find Out More:  Visit www.campwidji.org for more information about our camp.

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Grateful for big, loud, things

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Film Still from “Restrepo”  Photo by Tim Hetherington

“The Army might screw you and your girlfriend might dump you and the enemy might kill you,but the shared commitment to safeguard one another’s lives is unnegotiable and only deepens with time.The willingness to die for another person is a form of love that even religions fail to inspire, and the experience of it changes a person profoundly.” 

― Sebastian JungerWar

Yeah, I know. You’re circling the yoga studio in your car, not sure if you really want to go in. Everyone walking in seems so… bouncy, and they’re smiling, and what the heck are they happy about? Plus,  you’ve seen the “7-Days of Gratitude” started on FB, and a few of your friends have even posted things they’re grateful for.

What a bunch of goody-two-shoes.

After all, you’re intense. You’ve seen the most extreme part of life. War, poverty, suffering, pain. Violence, tragedy and danger.  You’re fierce in your beliefs, and so is everyone else you know. You walk on the earth.  But those people who go around saying they’re grateful?  You’re not so sure. Reality check?

You gun the engine, race ahead, trying to find a parking spot on the crowded street. Who the heck put this studio here, anyway?  What fool thought to put it next to a Starbucks and a hot dog stand? You shake your head. Honestly, you like your intensity. And you don’t feel like “letting go.” Besides, what is that? Letting go. Do they think there’s a window in your brain to open, and your intensity will just go away?  BIG LOUD AWFUL THINGS have shaped who you are now. And while there’s stuff you could do without –like the lack of sleep, or the reel that plays back and forth in your head …there were good things too. Like feeling you had a sense of direction, fighting for the person next to you, and knowing they’d do the same for you. Things were so certain ….and now? The only thing certain is everyone is talking about gratitude, and it kind of annoys you.

So now, you’re circling the block again, and you’re wondering…. yeah, you comprehend the meaning of gratitude. Life, liberty, pursuit of happiness means more than it did before you went to war. Some of your friends lost the chance at all three in a gritty battle or alone, at home, when hope had run out. Will they understand war ushered in the best friends of your life?  That the brother and sisterhood is unquestioned? Yeah, sure, there was trauma, but there were funny things that still make you laugh. Will they get it? It was the best and worst time of your life, and you’d do it again (only this time you wouldn’t lose your best friend). Do they understand it was the intensity that kept you alive? Do they know how much it pisses you off to be tossed off as an ‘adrenaline junkie?’ It seemed that way, but you weren’t though it’d be a lie to say that war wasn’t exciting. You were fighting for the guy on your left and your right.

Finally, you find a spot. It’s three blocks away from the yoga studio, but it will do. You park, gather your stuff –the yoga mat with the wrapper still on it, and a towel. You follow the others with yoga mats strapped to their backs. Some look rushed and harried. One even walks into you and doesn’t say, “sorry.” So maybe some of these yoga people are assholes, which makes sense: in any given group, there’s always going to be one.

You reach the door,  no time to hesitate, there are people behind you. But you remember one thing someone wrote here on WarRetreat:

We know you miss your war. It’s fine. We’re not asking you to become anyone else. If you’re already grateful, maybe you’ll find more. But no sane person is going to insist.  And maybe you won’t like yoga. Maybe your thing is to climb a mountain, ride a bike, or write a poem.

You check in, find a spot. The music starts. You sit, and breathe. And then you do it again.

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Yoga teachers needed: What are you waiting for?

The cries of help may be found everyday on the internet: soldiers or their parents telling friends through social networking about their struggles with PTSD, getting through deployments, having issues transitioning into family and civilian life.

And there is no couching this in pretty language: the staggering statistics are heartbreaking. The Army reported as many as 32 suicides in July 2011. While one could spend lots of time delving into what the military and the VA has or hasn’t done, there’s room for an additional question.

What is my community’s response to soldiers coming home?

You can look at community in so many ways –from who you hang out with, to your interests. But the one that means the most to someone who has served is to put it in terms of geography.

What is the response to the soldier coming home to where he or she lives?

Community takes on a more literal meaning. It’s not an easy question to answer because most people rarely ask it. War is an uncomfortable topic –it pushes political, moral, and sometimes even religious responses.  And most the time the responses are seen only along institutional lines: “The VA will handle it.” “The cops will handle it.” “Their families will handle it.” But don’t they deserve a better response?

If someone can step out of their comfort zone and push these aside to help, maybe they can simply extend their hand to say “Welcome Home” and offer 4 free yoga classes to veterans.

Paul Zipes, a former Navy Diver and now a yoga teacher and studio owner, founded Yoga For Vets. Studios and yoga teachers can sign on to offer four free classes combat veterans. For him, it’s all about helping those who have served in war, helping them find their breath, relax and as he says, “I just want to help them get a good night’s sleep.” Over 300 yoga studios across the country have signed on.

Be part of your community’s response. Sign up at Yoga For Vets. What are you waiting for?  From his blog, here is Paul’s To-Do List.

1) Facebook. tell 20 or 2000 of your closest friends about Yoga For Vets and our Facebook Page. 

2) Call your Aunt or Uncle.  Most family members know at least one combat vet.  Ask them if they know about Yoga For Vets and direct them to our site.

3) Email your Ashram.  Okay, this applies only to  yoga teachers.  Email the friends you graduated with and and tell them you support Yoga For Vets and ask them if they will too.