At the Colorado Springs Veterans Administration hospital, alternative treatments are helping veterans suffering from a wide range of medical problems. The VA uses yoga and meditation, as well as other alternative medicine techniques to treat patients’ pain and even PTSD symptoms. Jason Smiley, a veteran himself, teaches a restorative yoga class specifically designed for veterans. “They understand that you’ve been through the same things they’ve been through,” Smiley says about his students from the VA.
At first, Coast guard veteran Tom Noomen was skeptical of the guided meditation and yoga classes, but now he attends weekly. “The guided meditation is the most restful sleep I experience. I wake up after those and feel like I’ve slept for weeks,” he says. Noomen also appreciates a treatment with no negative side effects; “…with medication in the past, I’ve had some pretty severe side effects.” The dangerous side effects of prescription narcotics are exactly what the VA is working to avoid. “The VA is trying to… meet [patients] at their level of need; not just say ‘here, we’re going to give you a pill,’” says Lynn Prouhet a yoga instructor at the Colorado Springs clinic.
Army veteran Elizabeth David appreciates the new alternative treatment program, and credits it with her ability to give up painkillers altogether. As David said in a recent interview, “The thing about being drug free is that it gives me a sense of self-sufficiency, and the thing the military teaches all of us is to be self-sufficient.”
Read about the how the VA uses yoga and meditation and its new alternative treatment programs here.
Learn about the Veteran’s Yoga Project here.
Download guided imagery for PTSD and healing traumatic memories here.