Tag Archives: gratitude

Registration Opens for the 2014 Face of America Ride from Washington to Gettysburg

Team-Navy-Gadson-Finish-1024x717Calling all DC-Metro (and beyond) Veteran riders! This ride takes place in April.

World T.E.A.M. Sports’ popular Face of America bicycle and hand cycle ride from Washington to Gettysburg opened registration today for teams and individuals participating in the inclusive April 25-27, 2014 event.

Able-bodied civilians, active duty and retired military cyclists ride with disabled veterans from all service branches, beginning at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia and concluding at the historic battlefields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The Face of America is fully supported for participants of all abilities, leisurely traveling 110 miles in two days, with an overnight stay in Frederick, Maryland. Experienced riders can select one or both 100 kilometer loop rides from Gettysburg on Saturday and Sunday. All participants receive a commemorative jersey at on-site registration, along with a gala dinner and a celebratory outdoor lunch in Gettysburg at the Sunday afternoon conclusion.

Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/1634727#ixzz2nMhal1WD

WarRetreat’s “Great Big Book of Everything” Giving Edition

Are you looking for a fantastic way to thank a Veteran, but don’t really know how?  Many people stop at saying they “Thanked a Vet.”  However, here at WarRetreat…we work with and have relationships with several non-profit organizations that support veterans with anything from yoga and meditation to adaptive sports…and just about everything in between.  Getting veterans to move is a key component to their general health.  Here are a few of our favorite non-profits you might want to consider “giving” to.

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The GiveBack Yoga Foundation has a simple goal…To bring our Yoga For Veterans Toolkits, developed by expert teachers with years of experience in working with soldiers with post-traumatic stress, to at least 10,000 veterans across the country. To help make that happen, they are currently hosting a crowdfunding campaign to bring yoga toolkits to 2,000 veterans by the end of the year? If you haven’t, we hope you’ll check it out – when you donate $10 or more through December 31st, we’ll send you a gift of thanks! 

Major-Missy-MeditationChoose from goodies like download links for guided meditations, inspirational books about the power of yoga, or a one-on-one session with Mindful Yoga Therapy founder Suzanne Manafort. Or join Give Back Yoga’s trauma-sensitive teacher training at Sedona Yoga Festival in February, while helping us to fund yoga toolkits for over 60 vets and service members. Some of our “thank you” gifts are limited, so act now. With your help, we can share the healing practice of yoga and mindfulness with veterans who are recovering from trauma. 

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Outward Bound Veterans just published their 2014 course schedule for veterans and have over 600 slots for veterans and active duty soldiers on courses all over the country. They help returning service members and recent veterans readjust to life at home through powerful wilderness courses that draw on the healing benefit of teamwork and challenge through use of the natural world. In the military many veterans experienced courage, and camaraderie  while deployed. Outward Bound gives veterans and service members the opportunity to re-experience these strengths in themselves in a different context, thus helping them to transition back to civilian life. All courses are fully-funded including travel to and from the course of their choice.
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Wounded Warriors in Action Foundation (WWIA) provides world class outdoor adventures to assist with the mental and spiritual healing of Combat Wounded Purple Hear Recipients.  WWIA takes small groups of heroes out for  long weekends as a way to help them re-integrate back into a community,  increase their self-reliance and self-confidence, form peer to peer relationships and enjoy the wonderful aspects of the great outdoors -all in concert with a cadre of expert sportsmen who share the same values and ethos of the Heroes they support.
Right now, Wounded Warriors in Action Foundation is participating in the “CrowdRise Holiday Challenge” starting RIGHT NOW! It is a fundraising contest where WWIA keeps all the money raised, but also gets to compete with other participants for the possibility of winning even more money and exposure through contests held within the challenge. How can you help?

Click HERE to donate!   Be sure to make a comment under “donor comments” and share with others about why you love WWIA.

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Help Our Wounded (HOW) is here to serve as a mentor, support system and knowledgeable resource to caregivers and wounded veterans.  HOW provides accurate and actionable information and guidance based on the collective experience of those who have already worked within the system for many years and know where to go, what to do, who to ask and HOW to ask.
Founded by Rosie Babin in 2009, Help Our Wounded’s mission is to help severely wounded service members, and those who care for them, by providing direct aid, resources and support – unique to their needs.  While there are many resources for caregivers, the needs of those caring for the wounded veterans are unique and more complex. HOW has helped me out (Chris E.) three times.  Rosie has always been very kind and generous.  She is an ANGEL.
YOU can help them out many different ways.
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Mindful Yoga Therapy has a multi-pronged approach to helping Veterans.  First, they provide clinically tested programs for Veterans in several in-resident Veteran Affairs programs.  Secondly, they have resources available to Veterans…specifically their “new and improved” practice guide. This guide is a collection of simple but effective yoga practices developed by the authors through practical and clinical experience working with veterans coping with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other psycho-emotional stress. MYT also provides training to yoga instructors to prepare them with the tools they need to work with Veterans with PTSD.  Lastly, they provide scholarships to Veterans who are interested in becoming Yoga instructors.
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Save A Warrior uses safe, innovative and evidenced-based resiliency programs, we offer an alternative to suicide so that returning veterans may thrive. Save A Warrior™ embraces our returning veterans in a healthy and nurturing environment that stimulates growth beyond any program available.

We can only help with your support; and we thank you for partnering in fellowship to bring returning veterans all the way home.

Through your generous donations, we team with evidence-based and innovative resiliency-training service professionals, clinicians and licensed practitioners who provide the following:

  • The Warrior Meditation Project™ shown to heighten cognitive function and promote a “threshold” experience
  • Art of mindful living activities to target core issues of post-traumatic stress
  • Best practices for accessing the Post 9/11 GI Bill to receive maximum benefitMy-Idea
  • Equine Assisted Therapy and Wild Horse gentling
  • Self-motivation strategies to inspire and create a “life worth living”
  • Leadership, Behavioral-typing and Team Building Rope(s) Course
  • Continued engagement and mentoring through community-based programs and veterans outreach
Every returning veteran who completes our training has the fighting chance against becoming another suicide tragedy. But we need your help to keep returning veterans on the road to recovery… make your pledge today to Save A Warrior™ .
ParadoxSports-vectorFinalParadox Sports offers veteran-specific mountaineering trips. This past year, we did Mt. Rainer, the Grand Teton and Yosemite National Park. In 2014, we plan to expand to five events. Our first 

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veteran climb was Wyoming’s Grand Teton on Sept. 11, 2012. This was spearheaded by Executive Director Timmy O’Neill and Exum Mountain Guide Mike Kirby, an experienced Special Ops Army Ranger who served three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. After leaving the military in 2011, Kirby was involved in an avalanche which caused the eventual amputation of part of his frostbitten right foot. Since then, he has guided dozens of wounded veterans up mountains across the US. Most recently, Kirby joined two other injured veterans to successfully make the first all-veteran adaptive ascent of El Capitan with Paradox Sports on Sept. 11, 2013.
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Yoga Across America’s initiative, “Yoga for American Soldiers,” is saving lives and healing the wounds our soldiers are returning home with from war. YAA is sharing yoga, meditation and breathing exercises to active duty soldiers and veterans. We are reaching out to all branches of the military, teaching yoga to hundreds of troops.
“Yoga gave me faith that my body has more power than I believed it had.It gives me freedom to believe in myself,” states Tim Taylor, Army Specialist and Wounded Warrior, Afghanistan.
Soldiers are experiencing healing, inspiration and possibility through practicing yoga with YAA. They tell us they enjoy the practice and would like more yoga in their lives.
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BOOTSTRAP is a ten-week home-based program to help service members and veterans heal from post-traumatic stress and other chronic stress conditions. Combining the best of modern science with the ancient wisdom of yoga, BOOTSTRAP has been proven effective in less than an hour a day of use. Best of all, BOOTSTRAP is free of charge to troops and veterans in need. Learn more atwww.bootstrapUSA.com.
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MalaforVets is Chris Eder’s (WarRetreat Staff Member) Seva Project to raise money for Veteran Yoga projects like: Mindful Yoga Therapy for Vets, Save A Warrior Project, and the Give Back Yoga Foundation.  Chris is a certified Vinyasa and Hatha Interdisciplinary yoga instructor.  He is the Marketing Director for Mindful Yoga Therapy for Vets, a VYP Ambassador, Sivana Ambassador, and is currently working on his 500RYT.  He also has PTSD and A.D.D.
All November long MalaforVets is running a fundraiser suggesting you give back to Veterans wh

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o have already given so much to you.  They will donate $5 per Warrior Mala bead sold to Mindful Yoga Therapy. PLUS…all of the Warrior Malas sold will go to a Veteran currently in one of MYT’s yoga programs.  BUT WAIT…it gets better.  For every Warrior mala you buy…your name will be put into a drawing to win a Support Precedes Action Mala bead.

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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Invisible and Unnoticed

                                                                                                                                                                        

SFC Petry“Troops with visible injuries receive accolades, but those with unseen wounds are ignored.” – SFC Leroy Petry

SFC Leroy Petry, Medal of Honor recipient made this comment at the Warrior Resiliency Conference in Washington DC March 3 2012.  I was in the audience.  He also said servicemembers with internal injuries and psychological damage suffer the most, not necessarily those with external wounds.  Adding that when he walks into a room, his robotic hand clearly identifies him as an injured Warrior…however, when an injured Warrior has an invisible wound…they go unnoticed. Petry is referring to PTSD…an invisible wound!

These Warriors often go unnoticed forever.  Too many of them go unnoticed and without help.  An often lethal combination. I am not a doctor, nor can I say for sure that the Marine in the video that went viral recently has the said “invisible” wound.  I can say, that as someone with PTSD, and who has researched PTSD… uncontrolled fits of rage like that captured in this video is one of many horrible side-effects of PTSD.

I by no way condone the actions of the Marine in this video clip.  I use this clip not to bring discredit upon him, nor the Marine Corps.  Rather, to illustrate a point about this horrible side-effect of war!  Once again, I am not a doctor and have no proof the Marine has PTSD.

I want to share with a conversation I had with a fellow servicemember and co-worker.  We saw this video posted on Facebook.  My co-worker instantly noticed how inappropriate his conduct was and how it shines a bad light on all Marines.  I offered the possibility that maybe he had PTSD.  Quickly, my co-worker came back with how sick and tired he was about people throwing around PTSD…almost as if it was a “get out of jail free pass.”  He continued that it seems “everyone has PTSD.”  The kicker for me was when he said, “just because he has PTSD doesn’t give him the right to act like this.  He should know better!  He needs to control it.”

Really?  Control it?  You mean like turn it on and off like a light switch?  That’s like telling a person with autism to stop acting autistic and be normal…or telling a person with Alzheimer’s to stop faking that they can’t remember things.

When SFC Petry walks into a room with a silvery-purple hand, few people would ask him to dribble a basketball with his prosthetic.  For the record…he probably could.  We see this false hand and instantly make assumptions based on shared and accepted etiquette.  Therein lies the problem!  The Marine in the video, the co-worker who sits next to you, or the person you saw last week acting like a complete “ass”  at the restaurant potentially all have something in common.  They don’t have a high-tech hand, leg, or arm identifying them as “wounded.”

I wish it was possible to turn off my PTSD.  I often times wish I was invisible and unnoticed.  Sadly, that is not the case.  Having PTSD is not a carte blanche for me or any other Warrior with this “invisible” wound to act inappropriately. It is more a reason instead of an excuse.

It is difficult for those who suffer from this unwanted alignment to thwart or hold back emotional outbursts.  I asked my current “happy Doctor,” Dr. Sheela Reddy about what she thought about these “outbursts.”

“People do not have the empathy for someone who is having a “moment” .. and they don’t see the “guilt” felt afterward.  193_Sheela_101108If it were a switch you could turn off you would because the person engaging in the behavior that’s hurtful is also in pain but people only see the anger or “bad behavior” and not the pain within.”

So…the next time you see someone acting poorly…I ask you to pause…just for a moment.  Thanks.

SFHW Yoga Warrior T-Shirt

Our friends at Semper Fidelis Health and Wellness have partnered up with Sivana to form a Community Partnership.  Thanks to this community partnership they now have a Warrior-inspired shirt.6005war_earth_moss_1024x1024 This an original designed Tee and a portion of the proceeds will go to support SFHW training and education programs.The Yoga Warrior logo represents the battle we all must fight to gain our liberation and find our true inner strength. SivanaClothing-009_1024x1024The Om at the center represents our victory in this great battle. The Yoga Warrior Organic Tee is part of Sivana’s eco-friendly Alternative Earth Collection.

3501_heather_for_warrior_cropped_1024x1024Click the links to purchase:

Short Sleeve Men’s Shirt

Long Sleeve Men’s Shirt

Flowy Racerback Women’s Tank

Be Grateful: Others do with a lot less

h/t to Fred Leland for this quote:  “You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.” ~James Allen

When I was a kid, my mother would tell me when I didn’t want to finish my food, “Some child in China is starving right now.” I heard this often, and would grudgingly try my best to finish whatever was left on the plate. Such a first world problem –trying to get your child to eat, would make anyone in the third world shake their head. The lesson was –whether it was eating what was cooked for us, or learning how to take care of the things we owned, was to be mindful and grateful for what we had. But sometimes abundance can make people forget.

Over the past few months, a woman who is retiring with a state pension and benefits has been complaining about her job. The job has given her ample time off to travel the world, to be able to pursue a hobby of collecting stuff, it’s enabled her and her husband to have a nice house.

I wanted to tell her that at least she wasn’t hauling an 80 pound pack, wondering if the next step was going to get them blown up or shot at. At least she wasn’t raising 3 small children while pursuing an education or working, wondering if her spouse were going to make it home from deployment.

I wish she knew of the courage and strength our veterans and their families show from the battlefield to their civilian lives. The paths our lives take aren’t straight: they’re filled with peaks and valleys, with curves and straight-aways. We’re all tested, and growth only happens when we choose not to settle for complacency. I see veterans going to school, essentially starting anew, or veterans, starting new jobs and careers. Some of these jobs don’t even tap into the team building, leadership or project execution skills they have. But they keep at it, knowing that if they’re persistent and present, the path will grow more interesting, interesting and helpful people will come their way, and they’ll progress.

Perhaps she should just be grateful for what she has and realize, no one forced her into the job in the first place, and it was her choice to keep the job for the long haul. She’ll retire on her pension, and have benefits. A lot of our veterans would love to be in her position.

Thanksgiving: A War Widow On The Path Of Gratitude

Karie with her late husband, U.S. Marine Jimmy Cleveland "Cleve" Kinsey.

WarRetreat is proud to share the words of a Marine Widow, Karie Fugett. After two tours in Iraq, Jimmy “Cleve” Kinsey came home with serious physical wounds,  PTSD and TBI. A young bride, Karie spent “the next four years in hospitals and hotel rooms,” as she accompanied her husband from treatment to treatment. He died while at a private non-profit treatment facility for veterans with TBI of an accidental overdose. Her journey since the tragedy has been a slow, gradual one, which she has documented on her insightful blog. WarRetreat is grateful to share Karie’s reflections on thankfulness.

On Thanksgiving: What I’m Thankful For

By Karie Fugett

When I was a child my family’s tradition for Thanksgiving was to go to my Grandmother’s house and have a massive dinner complete with turkey and all the trimmings with our entire extended family – pretty typical, I think. And like many families while sitting around the dinner table, before we ate we would each take turns saying something we were thankful for. I’ve always been a shy person, even around people I know, so I always dreaded the moment all eyes would be on me and I would be expected to say something meaningful. The thing that kills me though, is the fact that as my turn became nearer, I wasn’t only freaking because I was shy, but because I couldn’t think of anything to say. I couldn’t think of one thing. In fact, I remember being sixteen or so and thinking, “I can tell you something I’m not thankful for, if ya want…”

How embarrassing.

I spent most of my childhood thinking that way.  I regret it because I wasted all that time. These days, instead of seeing the negative things, I choose to see the positive, and to me that’s what being thankful is all about – focusing on the good in your life and appreciating it. Realizing that things could always be worse (because they can), and holding on to the beauty you’ve been given.

Before you write me off as a freak of nature –whose life is obviously perfect, let me tell you it is most definitely not perfect. But my changed point of view when I reached my depths. Sadly, I found that sometimes we only realize what we have in life after we’ve lost everything.

For me, it took losing my beautiful husband. After going through a stage of general hate for everything in existence, I started to come around. My thought process began to change. Instead of focusing on what had been taken away from me, I focused on what I had been given. I realized how lucky we all to even be here, and through that everything just seemed more beautiful and significant to me.

I realize now that life is a cycle of ups and downs, beginnings and endings, and I needed to quit picking it apart. Everyone goes through tough times, but it’s all about how we react to them. In life, we create our own happiness – it is not something that is handed to us. It is not up to the Universe to deal us the right cards. We have to set out to find them ourselves despite our circumstances. And even when things aren’t ideal, it is still up to us to find the good and hold onto it for dear life. Life isn’t always fair, but that doesn’t mean we have to be miserable. And believe me, this isn’t always easy.

One of the things I recommend if you’re struggling with this is to volunteer. Volunteering can really help put things into perspective. And sometimes, something as simple as a walk down a nature trail can help. Seeing nature, the purest form of beauty, is a great reminder of how lucky we all are to be here.

Looking back, it’s hard to believe I could have ever been so blind. It’s embarrassing to say it took such a traumatic event to open my eyes.

This Thanksgiving I will be with my new boyfriend, his family, and two other military widows who have become great friends of mine. As we sit around the table, whether we discuss what we are thankful for aloud or not, I will take a minute to look around and remind myself of how blessed I truly am. This year I’m thankful (and forever indebted) to my husband for giving me the ability to be truly thankful for every little tiny thing in my life -what an amazing gift.

I’m thankful for the time I had with him, even if it was cut short. I am thankful for the ability to live to tell his story so that he will not have died in vain. I am thankful for the experiences we had that have given me the ability to promote change for other families – maybe that was the purpose of all of this.

I am thankful for my friends for pulling me through everything. I’m thankful for my dog – my first Christmas gift from my husband and best friend in the whole world. I am thankful I will not be alone on Thanksgiving. And more than anything, I’m just thankful to be alive.

I challenge you, no matter where you are in your life, to put your worries aside this Thanksgiving, and every day, and find beauty in the things around you. Allow yourself the gift of seeing the many things you have been blessed in. There are many, I promise.

Karie (third from left) with friends she met through wounded warrior and war widow social networks. They are a regular source for online, and in-person support.