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.

Study: Mental Health Gains for Veterans Assisted By Nature

6a00d83451b96069e2019aff6e8063970c-800wiPress Release:

Sierra Club, University of Michigan Study of Veterans finds link between outdoor activities and improved mental health

Thursday, July 25, 2013
Contact:
Rebecca Silver, 646-461-9831, Rebecca.Silver@Sierraclub.org

SAN FRANCISCO – According to the results of a new study from the University of Michigan, commissioned by the Sierra Club, veterans participating in outdoor group recreation reported improvements in psychological well-being, social functioning and life outlook, suggesting a link between nature exposure and enhanced well-being.

Participants were surveyed before and after a multi-day wilderness recreation experience in groups of six to 12 participants. The excursions emphasized a variety of outdoor activities, from fly fishing and backpacking to kayaking, whitewater rafting and paddling, and generally did not include formal, structured psychological counseling or therapy.

The results suggest many positive impacts for veterans engaging in outdoor activities, including:

  • Participation in an extended group outdoor recreation experience may be associated with numerous benefits; compared to pre-outing levels, participants reported improvements in psychological well-being, social functioning and life outlook.
  • Participants also reported being more likely to engage in other activities that involved exploration and helping others.
  • Findings also suggest that veterans with serious health problems can benefit from group outdoor recreation experiences.

Researchers hypothesize that the benefits of outdoor experiences may be attributable to the fact that participants are involved in physical challenges, camaraderie, and achievement of an objective – all of which correlate with military experience and training.

“The Sierra Club knows anecdotally the mental, emotional and physical benefits that come from spending time in nature, particularly for returning service members for whom the outdoors can be integral to their reintegration,” said Stacy Bare, Sierra Club Mission Outdoors Director. “The results of the University of Michigan’s study reinforce these beliefs and support our efforts to make these types of experiences available to more people.”

“The findings suggest that extended group-based nature recreation can have significant positive impacts on veterans struggling with serious health problems,” said Jason Duvall, a research scientist at the U-M School of Natural Resources & Environment, and one of the study’s lead authors. “Although more research is needed and many questions remain, the use of extended group-based outdoor recreation programs to ease veterans’ transition back into civilian life seems to be a promising approach.”

Veterans were surveyed one week before, one week after, and about one month after participating. In addition to assessing demographic and background information, the survey measured changes in psychological well being, social functioning, life outlook, and activity engagement over time.

To view the complete report, please visit http://www.sierraclub.org/military/downloads/Michigan-Final-Research-Report.pdf.

For more information about the Sierra Club’s programs for military veterans and families, please visitwww.sierraclub.org/missionoutdoors.

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About the Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization with more than 2.1 million members and supporters nationwide. In addition to creating opportunities for people of all ages, levels and locations to have meaningful outdoor experiences, the Sierra Club works to safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying and litigation. For more information, visit http://www.sierraclub.org.

About the U-M School of Natural Resources and Environment:
The School of Natural Resources and Environment’s overarching objective is to contribute to the protection of the Earth’s resources and the achievement of a sustainable society. Through research, teaching, and outreach, faculty, staff and students are devoted to generating knowledge and developing policies, techniques and skills to help practitioners manage and conserve natural and environmental resources to meet the full range of human needs on a sustainable basis.http://www.snre.umich.edu

 

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

“The Military Mindset & The Yoga Mindset Aren’t That Different.”

In NYC, a group of veterans from different eras meets for a weekly yoga class at the Iyengar Yoga Institute in Chelsea. With their mats, blankets, bolsters, chairs and straps, they go through the physical movements to find their breath and calm the mind. While the veterans might be from different wars, the experience of war is a common thread. Listen as they talk about their experiences, including one veteran who talks about growing up with a father who was in the Korean war who had PTSD.  Watch the video here on vimeo.

“When I teach these veterans, I know that military training is there and I use it to my advantage to teach them,” says the teacher. 

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In San Francisco: Whitewater Rafting & Women Veterans Retreat

Honoring The Path of the Warrior is having its Spring Fundraiser, a raffle to fund a 

Whitewater Rafting trip and a retreat for women veterans. Go here to purchase your tickets!  Your support is needed in order to make them happen, as all of the events are offered to OEF, OIF and Gulf War veterans at no charge. The raffle prizes are some of the best I’ve seen: resorts in Mexico and Calistoga, a white water rafting trip, massage, art work. Really, kids. These are serious prizes.

Here’s what one veteran had to say about a past HTPW event:

“Coming to the one-day events with other veterans, I feel like I am coming together with my family.  As vets we kind of walk with the same rhythm.  There is a sense of kinship.  You know that other person understands what is essential.  You’ve lived on what is essential and you know you can be 

fine with that. This is why mindfulness and meditation goes so well with veterans.  It is about getting down to that essential stuff – breathing, walking in silence.  It is like what we learned and were trained in, in order to do our duties. Maybe you are being mindful in a different way, but it is still mindfulness.   I have no desire to meet my fellow vets out at a bar.  It is the place and quality of being held and cared for that makes these days very appealing and healing.”

- Paige Jenkins, U.S. Navy

Facilitated by Dyan Ferguson, a former US Army officer, Honoring the Path of the Warrior is a program that assists post 9/11 and Persian Gulf veterans in making a positive transition from military to civilian life. We provide a pathway of meditation and mindfulness that welcomes, honors, and integrates their service and leadership. 

Their programs combine nature and engaging physical activities; meditation, Sensory Awareness and mindfulness practices. The intent is to provide Veterans with connection, community and tools that support them in using their strengths and experiences to find a meaningful and productive path in civilian life. 

Did you say that? Really?

A few months ago, we shared “Shit Yogis Say,” a satirical run on every nonsensical thing ever uttered by a yogi and never challenged.

Today we present this, aimed at civilians who want so much to please and find common ground with those who have served, they often miss the mark!

The Mountain As A Metaphor for Life’s Challenges

This weekend, I attended the premiere of the documentary, HIGH GROUND at the Boulder International Film Festival.  The documentary, produced by Don “The Lion King” Hahn, and directed by Michael Brown, follows the true story of 11 veterans and a Gold Star (and Blue Star) Mother as they climb Mt. Lobouche in Nepal. As they recount their wartime experiences, they find teamwork, friendship, and healing on the way. Their injuries include TBI, PTSD, blindness, and leg amputation. It is an incredibly beautiful journey, and each veteran not only shows heart, but also reminds the viewer of the determination of this nation’s Soldiers, Marines, Airmen, National Guard and Sailors.

Army Veteran Chad Jukes climbs Mt. Lobouche with Prosthetic Leg in the documentary "High Ground"

The transition back into civilians life is a slow journey. We can hope they keep going forward along the path. Traumatic memories  manifest themselves physically and affect how one thinks, perceives, acts, feels, and responds.  Every culture except ours has a way of working out trauma and grief physically: through dance, ritual, art, communal ceremonies. Here? We isolate.

But traumatic memories are stored in our bodies, or as one researcher has said, “In the muscle.”  In part why the High Ground journey to Mt Lobouche was so successful is that it involved teamwork, people watching out and depending on one another, as well as a high amount of technique, use of breath, and physical conditioning. It combined a lot of emotional, physical, intellectual and mental components.

The mountain is a metaphor for other challenges –both seen and unseen in life. It was a victory just to be on the mountain, to have gone through all of the arduous work to get there, let alone make it to the top. WarRetreat extends a hand of gratitude to everyone, including the organizations No Barriers and World Team Sports, for making their journey possible, and to producer Don Hahn and filmmaker Michael Brown for believing that theirs is a story worth bringing to the American public.